The application of electric-field in materials processing will revolutionise future manufacturing. In comparison with conventional thermo-mechanical processing, it is rapid, consumes less energy, has a lower environmental impact and requires less capital investment. However, statements like these need justification beyond laboratory scale experiments. Through this project, we aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of mechanical (super)plasticity in metals and alloys induced by high-intensity electric fields for improvement of material processing in modern manufacture. The research will focus on the influence of the imposed electric field on the alloy material taking into consideration the initial underlying micro-structure of the material. An electric field-assisted machining system will be designed, developed and installed on an existing CNC machine, with the aim of cutting metals without coolants, using less force and machining-induced damage. Machining studies will be conducted at industrially relevant machining conditions. Comparisons will be drawn with current practice for best machining outcomes. It is expected that electroplasticity enhanced machining will lead to less machining forces with reduced tool wear and post machining (tensile) residual stresses. A new theoretical model of crystalline plasticity has been developed which will be implemented for efficient and accurate computations. The results from the experimental studies will aid calibration and validation of the numerical models accounting for specifics of the underlying microstructure under the influence of electric fields. Finally, several case studies will be conducted on aerospace grade materials in collaboration with our research and industrial partners in Japan and in the UK.
Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in mechanical, electrical, aerospace, civil engineering or a related subject.