Ultra-Precision Bearings - Book Launch - Feb 2015

UPM has now authored a text book covering the types of bearing suitable for use in machines where low motion error is critical to performance. These include ball bearings, externally pressurised and self acting fluid film bearings, lubricated by oil or air. The mechanisms by which the bearings produce motion error are explained and a means of estimating other bearing performance parameters relevent to ultra precision machinery, namely stiffness, damping and power loss, is given. The book is primarily intended for precision machine designers, aiding the selection of the most appropriate bearing type and providing calculations for optimising bearing design. It is published by Woodhead and is available from Amazon and Waterstones from February 2015.


TSB Funding Awarded to Flexible Manufacturing Project - AUTOMAN     Feb 2014


The AUTOMAN project aims to develop a flexible panel manufacturing process. It is based on a reconfigurable tooling system that can be reset in a short time under computer control to make 'one off' panels a practical proposition. Key features of the system are a tool comprising of a matrix of pins that can be adjusted in height, fig 1, a fast acting height adjustment mechanism and a virtual forming system that can not only optimise the tool set up but also estimate panel quality at the design stage. The complete panel production process is computer controlled, figs 2. Design drawings are digitised and represented by a matrix of X, Y, Z coordinates. Starting with a flat panel, an FE based computer model simulates the forming or moulding process determining optimum tool configuration and press settings as well as actual surface form and residual stress. Finally the tool is automatically set in readiness for pressing.

The project, led by the University of Birmingham, has a consortium of industrial and academic partners - University of Strathclyde, MG Motor, MTC, Loadpoint, Whiston Industries with UPM acting as coordinator.

Fig 1 Reconfigurable Press Tool

Fig 2 Flexible panel manufacturing process developed by the AUTOMAN project

UPM joins the Microstir Consortium    March 2013

Friction stir welding is already widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries to join metal sheets. It relies on a tool rotating at high speed, pressed hard against the joint formed by two sheets butted together, to generate frictional heating. This not only softens the materials but ‘stirs’ them to create an intimate mix and hence a high integrity weld. By moving the tool along the joint, a seam is formed quickly and cleanly. The process can be used to join dissimilar metals and when installed on a CNC machine tool can join sheets with complex two and three dimensional boundary shapes.

The MICROSTIR (MICRO FRICTION STIR WELDING) project aims to extend the operating limits of the present Friction Stir Welding process from sheets of 1.2 mm thickness or more, down to 0.2 mm. This will be achieved by reducing tool shoulder diameters from around 8 mm down to 2 mm and by rotating them at much higher speeds to create a more localised heating zone. Furthermore by installing the process on a 3 axis CNC micro machine tool having a foot print of only 0.54 x 1.33 m2 the project will enable Friction Stir Welding to be used in a complete new range of applications and industries

The consortium, led by TWI, comprise of European technical institutes and industrial partners - TI, VTT, Gintek, Wolframcarb, Edgelab, Prisma and UPM. The project is funded by the European Commission under the FP7 initiative.

Micro Press Development    Jun 2010

Strathclyde University in collaboration with Tekniker and Pascoe Engineering Ltd have announced the development of a production version of the prototype Micro Press developed as part of the MASMICRO project. The press will measure 400m x 400 mm in footprint, be capable of 1000 strokes/min and a maximum press force of 5 kN making it suitable for producing components in the size range 1 – 50 mm from sheet material down to 20 μm thickness.  It will feature direct drive linear motor operation; a fully programmable tool motion profile; high resolution tool position accuracy and a flexible set up capability. The press will also include guiding bridge, sheet feeding and part transport mechanisms. Accuracy of pressing is estimated to be 5 μm and applications will therefore include miniature components for the automotive, electronics, medical and watch industries such as micro springs, micro gears, micro cups and micro lead frames.

UPM receives FP7 funding for Control System Development   Nov 2009

The ConTemp project, involving 8 European partners and led by the Technical University of Berlin has won FP7 funding to develop internally cooled tools for turning. Eliminating the need for externally applied coolant in a wide range of applications such tools will provide cost savings and have a lower impact on the environment than traditional turning tools. UPM’s role in the project is to develop an intelligent control system for controlling tool temperature by adjustment of process conditions. Such a system will enable optimum machining conditions to be maintained to preserve work piece surface integrity and to detect unacceptable levels of tool wear.

UPM awarded a Research Grant for New Air Bearing Development    April  2007

UPM has been awarded a Research Grant from the UK’s South West Regional Development Agency enabling the development of micro recessed air bearings. These bearings overcome a basic limitation of conventional air bearings when used in ultra precision applications. The micro recessed bearing contains shallow features machined into its surfaces to control pressure distribution and air flow rate within the bearing film. In so doing the recesses provide a near uniform air pressure distribution and to allow the film thickness to be reduced to a level that is impractical with conventional orifice fed air bearings. The result is higher static stiffness, lower motion errors and reduced air consumption.

UPM gratefully acknowledges funding and support from the UK’s South West Regional Development Agency enabling the development of the micro recessed air bearing.

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