University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering

Materials Processing Laboratory

Contact: Barney E. Klamecki
Mechanical Engineering Building Room 325B
Telephone: (612) 625-0703

Materials Processing Laboratory
ME 50
Telephone: (612) 625-8558

Research Summary

The Materials Processing Laboratory supports three types of activities:

Several projects involve closed-loop control of metal forming. A completely instrumented cup-drawing press with active control of binder and drawbead is operational. Industrial-scale pressbrake and rotary-draw tube bending machines have been modified with appropriate sensors and computer controls for closed-loop operation. The concepts embodied in these machines have been patented and are being commercialized.

Machining processes incorporating sensors located away from the cutting zone and in the tooling have been developed. Process state and tool condition can be monitored and are serving as a basis for process control. Turning and milling machines are being used in this work.

Reliability of a plasma cutting torch is being investigated using newly developed sensing techniques. We are concentrating on determining the factors responsible for deterioration of cutting torch performance due to cathode erosion. High speed observation of the cathode during operation is used to determine the extent of the cathode material melting, and emission from the surface is used to measure the cathode temperature during the various stages of the cutting process.

An MTS load frame (100 kN) with a temperature and humidity-controlled environmental chamber is available for material characterization at extreme conditions. Tests may be conducted at temperatures ranging from -130o C to 315o C. The equipment has been recently upgraded to allow low-force testing (200 lb and less) and fatigue testing.

Instrumentation facilitates metrology activity. Included are:

The lab is also used for instructional purposes. Computers, software and computer-controlled machine tools are used in the Computer-Assisted Product Realization Course, ME 5221.