Large metallic panels are used in a range of applications, from fuselage, wing or cowling skins for aircraft to architectural cladding. Traditional panel manufacturing processes such as die forming, mould shaping and fixture assembly require bespoke tooling that can result in high costs and long lead times.
AUTOMAN addresses these challenges by offering a sophisticated, reconfigurable metal sheet forming process as an alternative to bespoke dedicated tooling, that produces high quality, 3D functional, complex and lightweight panels. The system features a matrix of digitally reconfigurable pins that can be quickly adjusted in height off the press form tool.
Industries that could benefit from a flexible panel manufacturing process include:
Demonstration panels have been successfully pressed at Whiston Industries Ltd in Birmingham, and the system is available to demonstrate industry specific applications.
The AUTOMAN consortium are seeking partners for a bid to secure funding to further develop the AUTOMAN system.
Future potential development work includes:
The project was led by UPM Ltd, with consortium members including the University of Birmingham, Loadpoint Ltd, MG Motor UK Ltd, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the University of Strathclyde, and Whiston Industries Ltd.
The AUTOMAN project is supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK.