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Development of an X-ray based non-destructive method for the determination of deformation during machining of a high-performance Ni-based superalloy

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

About the Project

An exciting interdisciplinary opportunity at the cutting-edge of academia and industry working across both the Materials Science and Engineering department and the renowned Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and making use of world leading large scale national and international facilities for synchrotron diffraction. The project aims to develop a non-destructive tool for the evaluation of deformation during machining operations and will aid the transition to Industry 4.0.

Machining operations are vital in the manufacturing of engineering components and the overall deformation due to machining imparted onto the final part is critical for determining the safe-life of the component. To date, in order to minimise the risk of excess deformation on the part, tools are frequently replaced, significantly adding to the overall cost of component manufacture. The intervals at which tools are replaced are determined from a trial and error approach and destructive experimentation on components post-machining. Due to the destructive nature of testing and the associated cost, such trials are limited and result in statistically flawed tool-lives to be obtained. In addition, the trials also provide an estimation of the amount of deformation on components post-machining that is used in component lifing operations, hence further adding an error that requires risk-mitigation and inadvertently results in reducing the calculated component lifetime.

Consequently, over the past few years efforts have concentrated on the development of methodologies that can be used to non-destructively evaluate machining deformation. A method developed at the AMRC (patent application GB1906037.5) that has exhibited considerable promise is the use of X-ray diffraction that has been shown to qualitatively determine machining deformation. This project aims to build upon the existing body of work at the AMRC to develop this methodology further to allow the quantitative evaluation of deformation on Ni-based superalloy components with the ultimate aim of developing a process that can be integrated onto machining rigs providing real-time data of deformation accumulation. The project will hence result in significant cost savings to be realised as tool-life will be determined in real-time, whilst also providing an accurate measure of deformation that can be directly used in component lifing models and further aid in the data-driven transformation of manufacturing processes.

In order to achieve the aims outlined, the project will concentrate on developing the methodology on Ni-based superalloys that offer a unique combination of challenges both in machining and diffraction that will enable a robust methodology to be determined and extended to lab-based systems.

The project objectives are:
• Methodology development and advanced understanding through high resolution experiments using synchrotron radiation on machined samples with different levels of deformation.
• Extension of lessons learned from synchrotron diffraction to lab-based ex-situ methodologies including the determination of the usable limits of theory in lab-based systems and the establishment of data analysis protocols and algorithms.
• Trials of in situ integration to machining rigs.

The successful candidate will: have a masters level degree in a STEM discipline, experience with laboratory work, a strong interest in materials science and diffraction theory, be self-motivated, proactive and a good communicator. The expected start date is February 2021.

Funding Notes

Funding covers home tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of at least the Research Council minimum for eligible UK applicants for 3.5 years.

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