Non-Conventional Machining

Efficient material removal technologies for demanding applications

The overall 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 and/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

However, one of the key aims for the theme is to demonstrate that NCM techniques can be successfully employed as a prime option and not just an alternative for conventional methods. 

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/ 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/component geometry combination which can be seamlessly transferred to industry. 

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 and important changes in legalisation (such as REACH).