An improved material test system for high strength aluminium sheet products

Impression Technologies Ltd

National Physical Laboratory
Round 3

Impression Technologies Limited (ITL) is a relatively new manufacturing business developing hot forming of aluminium sheet.

ITL is already in low / medium volume production for a number of premium car manufacturers and as part of it’s growth strategy it now needs to ramp up volumes.

As part of the volume ramp up process we need to collect large amounts of data on the HFQ process to give our customers confidence that it is robust and that we understand well the operating parameters of the various stages.

These end customers require that the formed parts meet certain mechanical properties (Tensile Strength, Yield & elongation).

To ensure we meet these criteria we currently use a portable hardness checker and correlate this to mechanical properties.

This equipment is now proving to be not fully capable of checking material properties and hence we are looking to improve the measurement method.

This improvement will be necessary for HFQ (Hot Form Quench) to enter new market areas including aerospace, rail and high volume automotive.

The vision of this project will be to develop a new, novel non-destructive, robust test process that can reliably identify material mechanical properties from a fast inspection methodology.

This will be used firstly to ensure 100, it will then be used to help refine our process to improve throughput and quality levels whilst reducing product variation.

The key objectives will be a process that :- * Is fast (<60 seconds to check a part).

* Is repeatable ( with a Gauge R&R result of <30, through test & analysis a correlation between eddy current results and material properties.

This project is innovative as there is currently no known non-destructive, reliable measurement process on the market for aluminium, and whilst an equivalent process has recently been released for steel grades – this is not suitable for translation to non-ferrous materials.

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