In the manufacturing industry, the machining of medium and big size parts with the required precision is a challenge, especially in high added value products manufactured in small or single-unit batches made of high performance materials like in aeronautic, space or energy sectors, where conventional process engineering and test/error methods are not completely efficient.
INTEFIX aims to increase the performance of the machining processes by the use of intelligent fixture systems, allowing the monitoring, control and adaptation of the process to obtain suitable results according to precision, quality and cost requirements. Normally the main functions of fixtures are to securely hold and accurately locate the workpiece considered as an undeformable body, but nowadays the high required precision and the need of increasing the performance of the manufacturing process drives to other important functions of the fixtures taking in to account aspects like the deformations, vibrations and distortions in the workpiece during processing. Furthermore, the machining system (machine-fixture-workpiece) cannot be considered as a stable system due to its dynamic behaviour and geometrical shape variations along the process, so adaptive fixtures can be used to control and adapt the behaviour of the machining system in order to obtain adequate results in manufacturing precision, quality and cost.
The main outcome of INTEFIX project will be the integration of new and state of the art technologies (sensors, actuators, control algorithms, simulation tools…) applied to the workpiece handling systems to develop intelligent and modular fixtures capable of modify the behaviour and interactions between the process and systems in machining operations; reducing time and costs with improved performance and capabilities.
The proposed intelligent-modular fixture is a step forward to the smart manufacturing, providing new features of automation, flexibility, versatility, cost-efficiency and accuracy to the current, state of the art, manufacturing systems and equipment; solving problems of vibrations, deformations and precision positioning.
The intelligent fixture will provide sensors and active drives to obtain a suitable fix of the component modifying the force and position of active locators and clamps, in order to select the suitable static and dynamic behaviour of the machine-fixture system for improving the process (Vibration, deformation and positioning).
Furthermore, the use of modular elements eases disassembling and reuse of the advanced components improving the flexibility and sustainability of the manufacturing processes.
The developed solutions will be validated in 11 real test cases from aeronautic, railway, automotive and machine-tool sectors covering different problems and requirements in the manufacturing industry. The results aim at fostering the leaderships of the European manufacturing industry of high added value products, and at helping the technology suppliers to gain market share with new applications for their products.
The impact of the INTEFIX project not only will fall on the machining process, the benefits of the intelligent fixtures appointed above can be extended to other process such as welding repair, mechanical assembly, etc.
The social benefits of INTEFIX projects deals with keeping the productive factories in Europe contributing to the maintenance of employs, as well as to access to fast to market, cheaper and better products manufactured in Europe. The developments to be carried out in the project are expected to bring significant scientific and technological advances in the field of manufacturing and intelligent systems, maintaining the universities and research organizations on the forefront of research and development, and education and training of the next generation of researchers and experts.