In the tool and die industry, the process chain for manufacturing tools typically includes the production of molds by mechanical CNC milling and the subsequent manual finishing to improve the surface quality. In this final step, polishing requires the utmost concentration, furthermore the polishing time and final surface result depend entirely on the individual skill of the hand worker involved. The machining process also enables carcinogenic grinding and polishing dust to which the craftsman is exposed. Due to these conditions, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to recruit motivated young people in European industrialised countries.
The main task in the “i.VAMS” project is the development of an intelligent sensor-actuator tool system coupled with a compensation control scheme for the automated fine machining of complex geometries using machine tools. In the first steps, the requirements for the tool system, the control scheme, and the manufacturing process are analysed. Subsequently, the sensor-actuator tool system is developed and integrated into the process with the aid of a newly developed control and regulation concept.
The intelligent sensor-actuator tool system enables reproducible production processes suitable for the serial production of components with free-form surfaces with a holistic fine machining approach. The technology, which is being developed and implemented in the project, can be used in various industries such as tool and die making, automotive, turbomachinery, optics, and medical. The technology is also intended above all to be used in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to modernise their existing machine tools.