The Machining Research Group is one of the largest in the School with over 20 members comprising Full-Time Academics, Research Fellows, Teaching Company Associates, Research Students, Visiting and Honorary Research Fellows and Technical Staff.
It has an international reputation for applied machinability research and process development. This encompasses conventional machining processes, ie. turning, milling, drilling, grinding, etc. and the less traditional techniques such as electrical discharge machining in all its various guises from die sinking through to texturising, together with arc sawing and ultrasonic machining.
The group’s high speed milling facility is the most comprehensive in any UK university with state of the art machine tools capable of rotational speeds up to 45,000 rpm and cutting fluid delivery systems operating at up to 300 bar (~4500 psi).
Its range of analysis equipment is equally extensive encompassing video tool wear systems, a range of Kistler piezoelectric platforms / rotating dynamometers for force measurement, infrared cameras for temperature measurement, leading edge surface / dimensional metrology equipment and facilities for in-depth workpiece surface integrity analysis. These include microscopy (optical and SEM), metallography, microhardness, X-ray residual stress and fatigue equipment.
Much of the work is undertaken in collaboration with the University’s Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) in Materials for High Performance Applications. As a consequence, the focus of much of the research is on advanced aerospace alloys including titanium and nickel based superalloys, together with other ‘difficult to cut’ ferrous / non-ferrous alloys and non-metallic materials. This includes a wide range of hardened tool / bearing steels, eg. AISI H13, P20, D2, D3, E52100 & M2, and materials such as aluminium-silicon carbide metal matrix composites, carbon fibre composites and ceramics.
The group’s track record in attracting research grants and in terms of publications is first class (20 per year). It currently holds five major Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) / industrially funded grants, together with a three company Flagship Teaching Company Programme in addition to a number of separate industrially funded contracts. Companies currently involved with the research include Bridgeport, De Beers, Delcam, HR Pearce / Kobelco, Lee Steels, Matsuura, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik, SNECMA, SparkTec International, Technicut and Unicorn International.
Dr S Leung Soo