Various operations that are performed on a lathe machine

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Revolutionary device makes machining composites as easy as ‘cutting through butter’

Loughborough University researchers have developed a device which could revolutionise the way cutting, drilling and milling is done in manufacturing.

The tool makes working on difficult-to-cut materials like aerospace-grade composites so easy it is like ‘cutting through butter’. It involves a technique called ultrasonically-assisted machining (UAM), which uses a specially designed piezoelectric transducer working in tandem with a traditional turning, drilling or milling machine.

The device creates ultrasonic vibrations at anything between 20kHz and 39kHz, and the machining technique makes the composite material so ‘soft’ in the area being worked on that much less force is needed from the cutting tool, resulting in less damage, less waste, and a better finish.

UAM is the brainchild of Professor Vladimir Babitsky, from the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and has been developed extensively in the last few years with the support of Dr Anish Roy and Professor Vadim Silberschmidt

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Electromagnetic clutches

Electromagnetic clutches operate electrically but transmit torque mechanically. Engineers once referred to them as electromechanical clutches. Over the years EM came to stand for electromagnetic, referring to the way the units actuate, but their basic operation has not changed.

ANNEALING

Annealing is a heat process whereby a metal is heated to a specific temperature /colour and then allowed to cool slowly. This softens the metal which means it can be cut and shaped more easily. Mild steel, is heated to a red heat and allowed to cool slowly. However, metals such as aluminium will melt if heated for too long.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES: Annealed metals are relatively soft and can be cut and shaped more easily. They bend easily when pressure is applied. As a rule they are heated and allowed to cool slowly.

SUBMERGED ARC WELDING

Submerged arc welding (SAW) is a common arc welding process. The first patent on the submerged-arc welding (SAW) process was taken out in 1935 and covered an electric arc beneath a bed of granulated flux.

The molten weld and the arc zone are protected from atmospheric contamination by being “submerged” under a blanket of granular fusible flux consisting of lime, silica, manganese oxide, calcium fluoride, and other compounds.

When molten, the flux becomes conductive, and provides a current path between the electrode and the work. This thick layer of flux completely covers the molten metal thus preventing spatter and sparks as well as suppressing the intense ultraviolet radiation and fumes that are a part of the shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) process.