Non-Conventional Machining

Non-Conventional Machining

Technologies Component Manufacturing Systems Non-Conventional Machining

Efficient material removal technologies for demanding applications

The aim of the MTC's Non-Conventional Machining (NCM) theme is to provide efficient, cost-effective solutions for the manufacture of traditionally difficult to machine materials using state-of-the-art spark erosion and laser technologies. These processes are generally used when traditional methods are not technically or economically feasible. Some examples for this are: 

  • Machining of very hard or tough materials
  • Machining of very complex shapes
  • High surface finish and accuracy requirements
  • Low cutting forces or clamping forces requirements


We are currently focusing on developing electrical discharge machining (EDM), electrical discharge drilling (EDD), electro-chemical machining (ECM) as well as laser drilling and micro-machining for a range of applications in the High Value Manufacturing sector.

Typical projects include the assessment of a range of potential NCM processes for a specific application or component geometry, followed by process down-selection based on a cost/ benefit analysis. Key Process Variables (KPVs) of the down-selected process are then defined through directed research, to establish a robust processing window for the specific material or component geometry combination which can be seamlessly transferred to industry.

We offer surface engineering capability in all areas from cleaning to polishing and micro-texturing. We have lasers that are capable of removing oxide layers, paints and coatings from metals. We also have the ability to change the surface structure and chemistry of metals and polymers for achieving specific functionality such as water-repelling, anti-bacterial or adhesive properties.

We can even add aesthetic surfaces such as carbon-fibre texture, textile finishes or even pictures on metallic surfaces.

The NCM theme works closely with other research themes (Advanced Tooling and Fixturing, Metrology and NDT, Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing and Manufacturing Simulation) and the MTC’s three academic partners to enable emerging NCM technologies such as micro-machining and laser ablation to be developed through the Manufacturing Capability Readiness Levels (MCRLs) in a timely manner to meet the increasingly demanding requirements from industry.

Surface engineering

Surface engineering is a technology that influences almost every industrial sector and product from aero engines to spaceships, mobile phones to medical implants and razor blades to racing cars. 

There are three major types of surface engineering; Applying surface coatings, Processing and existing surface to modify its chemistry, or creating textures, which were inspired by nature, like lotus leaf, or sharkskin. This technology can help to create products services with self cleaning, antibacterial, anti icing or anti wetting properties. 

These improved surfaces can result in enhanced product performance, or even introduce a completely new functional attribute. Surface engineering can lead to unprecedented levels of surface performance improvement for industrial use.  

At the MTC we cover the complete value chain of the process, from designing to implementation and on to validation. We are continually pushing the boundaries of surface engineering, developing advanced methods and processes and de-risking the application of these technologies for industrial use. 

Contact one of our experts today to find out more.

A picture tells a thousand words, and seeing our project come to life in the MTC virtual reality CAVE knocks the spots off a thousand pictures!

Bob Panther
Client of Hickman & Smith Architects