Machining has to be considered one of the core disciplines in engineering, because whatever we use in life needs to be manufactured, and a substantial part of manufacturing still requires some kind of machining. Machining is also the key to adding value, by turning a 'lump of steel' into a sophisticated component, that then becomes part of a highly complex product.
Our researchers look at various aspects of machining, focussing on:
- cutting - milling, turning, drilling.
- laser machining - cutting, drilling, forming, surface texturing.
We look at conventional materials, ranging from steel or aluminium, to some of the most high-tech materials, such as carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) or nickel-based alloys. We try to understand the physics with which these materials are being cut, and how this affects not only the performance of the tools and machines involved but also the quality and integrity of the component itself, such as surface roughness and hardness, crack formation and thermal damage.
Our research looks at:
- conventional and high-speed machining of steels, nickel-based alloys, light alloys, fibre-reinforced plastics.
- laser machining - cutting, drilling, surface texturing, forming.
- dry and minimal quantity lubrication (MQL) machining.
- application and evaluation of new hard and soft coatings.
- tool and process condition monitoring in drilling.
- minimally invasive surgery 'keyhole surgery'.
The group has got strong links with a wide range of companies, such as Airbus UK, BAE Systems, ELE Advanced Technologies, Mikron Tool SA Agno, Rolls Royce, and Semer Anlagen Technik, to name just a few. We have been working together with these companies on a number of occasions, stretching from relatively short-duration projects to large research projects that are conducted over several years.