In current market and technological context, mechanical products have to be designed and produced taking into account structural optimisation (which often involves complex structures and geometries) and economically efficient production (i.e. productive and flexible manufacturing). Automated manufacturing of complex geometries, such as additive manufacturing, can be related to issues such as 3D structured, multi-layered and hybrid materials, joining issues or the joint-free realisation of complex shapes. Moreover, newer constraints are coming from requirements of sustainability in production processes (resource and energy efficiency), both through additional regulations and through the increased materials and energy costs. The main aims in the manufacturing of complex structures are quality and productivity with minimum use of material and energy.
Three complementary approaches can be considered: Innovative resource-efficient manufacturing processes (through tolerance to recycling within manufacturing processes and remanufacturing or through first time right approaches); innovative energy efficient machinery; and developments in process control allowing both to cope with more recycling in the process and to increase output quality (i.e. reduce out-of-tolerance products that have to be refused).
Research activities should address several of the following areas:
- Manufacturing process control and monitoring strategies based on integrated models of both processes and machines, with modules for resource and energy efficiency
planning and monitoring, and with capability of selection of the best process and machine for the part to be manufactured.
- Innovative process concepts and tools, including design supported by computational modelling, for resource efficiency in complex geometries manufacturing.
- Innovative machinery improving resource efficiency from the current state of the art in complex geometries manufacturing.
- Remanufacturing and recycling, with novel or improved use of waste streams.
Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 4-6.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The impact on the areas of application of the projects is expected to be:
- Reduction of at least 30% in the material usage pertaining to the manufacturing of complex structures and geometries when compared to current average values.
- Reduction of at least 20% in the overall energy consumption related to the manufacturing of complex structures and geometries when compared to current average values.
- Elimination of faulty manufactured parts by the adequate combination of integrated process-machine approaches with a continuous control of process parameters.