Efficient and reliable forming processes

Innovation project: Self-correcting manufacture of electrical connectors and furniture guide rails

Due to increasing customer demands, products and production systems must incorporate more and more functions. This places high demands on the individual components and how they interact, creating great challenges for manufacturers. On the one hand, they must ensure the high quality and precision of the very small parts that they often produce in high quantities. On the other, they must keep manufacturing costs down in order to remain competitive against rivals from Europe and Asia. There is great potential for optimization in forming processes such as press-bending electrical connectors or roll forming furniture guide rails, making it possible to cost-effectively guarantee the precision of the parts and minimize waste. This can be achieved through machinery that autonomously identifies discrepancies in the process and materials and corrects itself accordingly.

The aim of the research project is to incorporate self-optimization technologies into forming processes such as press-bending and roll forming by developing methods and hardware components. The focal points are process reliability, automated setup and tooling, and machine productivity.

To that end, measurement technology for detecting production fluctuations is integrated into tools and machinery that were previously controlled by purely mechanical means, while an intelligent control system with self-correction algorithms ensures that product requirements are continuously met. This involves drawing on deliverables from cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking and systems engineering. Proof of functionality is provided by implementing the project results in pre-production prototypes. A design approach is also developed to allow the model to be transferred to other manufacturing processes.

As a result of the innovative leap from mechanical to self-correcting forming processes, the productivity and resource efficiency of press-bending and roll forming are significantly increased. The degree of (process) reliability achieved here guarantees the quality of mass-produced products in the long term. Setup and tooling times should be reduced by 20% and waste minimized. The model design approach can be transferred to other manufacturing processes and is disseminated outside the cluster by engineering and consultancy firms. The project makes an important contribution to keeping production in Germany competitive.

Project duration
01 July 2014 - 30 June 2015