A DARPA Program a decade ago concentrated on flexible manufacturing – which included the development of manufacturing processes which were Direct CAD-to-Part, and “smart” robot/process controllers which had embedded process models and could “on-the-fly” make process adjustment and produce perfect or near perfect parts with no human intervention. A team, headed by two of the authors, began the development of the LITS-Form (Laser Induced Thermal Strain – Forming) process. The LITS-Form process has evolved, partly supported by both Navy and Department of Energy Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)funding; and, the addition of induction heating has made the process much faster and more efficient for thicker metal. The process is similar to thermal forming using Line Heating – which many shipyards use to make complex 3D shapes. However, there are several significant advances in the LITS-Form technology. The Physics of the LITS-Form system is fundamentally different from manual Line Heating allowing it to operate up to 100 times as fast. LITS-Form can produce parts with greater accuracy than Line Heating, and is faster than conventional metal forming operations such as the linear brake press.
Large Scale Metal Forming – A New Automated Technology using Model Based Engineering for Reduced Cost and Higher Productivity of 2D and 3D Metal Part Forming for Shipbuilding
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Jones, Jerald E., Rhoades, Valerie L., and Mark D. Mann. "Large Scale Metal Forming – A New Automated Technology using Model Based Engineering for Reduced Cost and Higher Productivity of 2D and 3D Metal Part Forming for Shipbuilding." Paper presented at the SNAME Maritime Convention, Bellevue, Washington, USA, November 2013. doi: https://doi.org/10.5957/SMC-2013-P47
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