Experimental trials on Conform and CRE machines forms the basis of the STAR groups research into continuous extrusion processing. However, we also employ a range of lab based experiments and large-scale finite and discrete element simulations to support these trials.
The group has developed `small-scale' powder rheology/mechanical behaviour experiments using a combination of uniaxial compression and annular shear cell equipment, modified for use with metal powders. Data from these experiments have fed into both finite (DEFORM™) and discrete element (EDEM™) simulations for validation. The `virtual' materials and models are then used to investigate the effects of tooling geometry, temperature and friction changes on the continuous extrusion machine and the extruded product.
I am also heavily involved in the Manufacturing with Advanced Powder Processes EPSRC Future Manufacturing Hub as a lead researcher in Theme P2.2. Within this theme MAPP aims to further develop the Field Assisted Sintering Technology with a range of metallic and ceramic powder materials for industrial applications. Utilising this `high-tech' rapid sintering an applying more traditional metal-forming techniques to the resultant parts opens up possibilities for cost and performance improvements in a range of typically conservative industries such as automotive.