Experimental Machining Laboratory
The Experimental Machining Laboratory focuses on the advanced designing and manufacturing of cutting tools, including preparation of their microgeometry, detailed measurements and grinding of sculptured surfaces, polishing, flute shape analysis, design of the grinding wheel shape, 3D printing of metallic parts, design of supports for 3D printing, and optimisation of 3D printing parameters.
- Machining strategy
- Verification of technologies
- Production of prototype components
- Diagnostics and optimization of the cutting process
- Quality and surface condition control
- Surface evaluation using the linear and surface roughness
- Experimental analysis of machining processes
- Proposal of fixtures for machining
- Proposal of cutting machines
- NC programming
- Measurement of complex-shaped products
- Proposal process of cutting edge modification
- Measurement of cutting tools geometry and microgeometry
KRAKEN – a unique milling head produced by 3D metal printing
Additive manufacturing (AM), also referred to as 3D printing, is one of the pillars of Industry 4.0, which fundamentally changes the paradigm of industrial production in the 21st century. This is one of the reasons why additive technologies are the focus of one of the key research programmes of the Regional Technological Institute (RTI), a research centre affiliated with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of West Bohemia. The advancement of this technology is, justifiably, among the priorities of the European strategy for competitive and sustainable manufacturing, as it helps reduce the consumption of power and materials.
Thanks to many years of its research into AM, RTI has become a renowned research team, not only at home, but throughout Europe as well. This is evident from the fact that RTI's Experimental Machining Laboratory, which conducts the research into AM, is the originator of several patents, utility designs and proven technologies – and its members are invited to give lectures on 3D printing at conferences with a global attendance.
KRAKEN, an award-winning patented solution
One of the internationally recognized 3D-printing projects pursued by the RTI has led to a unique cutting tool for milling hard-to-machine materials. The product was named KRAKEN because its shape resembles the tentacles of the mythical sea octopus.
Since the rod structure of the cutting tool cannot be made by conventional technologies, the uniqueness of this concept derives from the possibilities offered by the technology of metal additive manufacturing. Complex-shaped cooling channels supply the process fluid right to the cutting area and guarantee effective cooling of the face and flank of this tool provided with exchangeable cutting inserts.
This design solution also delivers a number of other benefits, such as significant material savings (60% less weight than standard tools), while maintaining the overall stiffness and strength, breadth of use, greater cutting productivity, optimized cooling performance, extended tool life, shorter production times, and reduced total costs of machining. Topology optimization, which is typical of development for additive manufacturing, was employed in engineering this product as well.
At the International Engineering Fair 2018 (MSV) in Brno, Czech Republic, this new cutting tool won MSV 2018 Gold Medal for the best exhibit in the category of engineering component innovation. KRAKEN (a milling cutter with braces) – its design and manufacture – has already been granted a patent by the Czech Industrial Property Office and registered with the European Patent Office.
Ing. Miroslav Zetek, Ph.D.