Catapult centres deliver cutting fluids for Aerospace

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is to be part of a UK based collaboration to develop groundbreaking metal cutting fluids for the aerospace and nuclear industries.

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The three year Innovate UK project HiPAdd’ sees industry working alongside four of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s centres, and aims to address the problems experienced by heat generation at the cutting zone in the manufacturing of metals for the aerospace and nuclear industries. The consortium will draw upon specialist scientific formulation capability to produce novel additives for metal cutting fluids that can reduce heat transfer by extracting heat from the cutting face through contact/​lubrication between the piece and cutting tool.

The industry consortium is led by Afton Chemicals Ltd in collaboration with CPI, The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), as well as advisory roles from Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. The project started in April 2014 and has already seen promising results through the addition of extreme pressure and nanoscale additives developed during the programme. The addition of two-dimensional materials such as hexagonal h‑boron nitride shows significant improvements in heat removal as well as being inherently lubricating at laboratory scale.

The machining of materials such as titanium alloys used in aerospace components is typically limited by the amount of heat generated at the cutting zone. Heat is removed by the use of a cutting fluid which acts both as a coolant and lubricant. A cutting fluid is a complex formulated fluid consisting of many additive components, each providing a specific function such as anti-corrosion and lubrication properties amongst others. The consortium will utilise specialist nanoscale liquid dispersion technologies to formulate and develop a higher performing additive that not only significantly increases the speed of metal cutting, but will also bring substantial cost and energy savings.

The collaboration brings together the whole innovation value chain, drawing the benefits from world class research, technology innovation and market drive from industry.” said Steve Devine, Principal Scientist at CPI National Formulation Centre. We are very happy with the progress of the project so far. Going forward the key challenge is to scale up the additives from laboratory and test bed scale and to demonstrate them at a volume that allows for the market adoption. The technology developed will not only significantly improve the manufacturing of aerospace metals within the UK but will also be able to benefit a host of other UK high value manufacturing sectors.”

Steve Griffiths, Senior MTS Specialist at Afton Chemical said Working with the Catapult and industry partners has given Afton Chemical insight into the real world performance of our additives early on in the development programme. This has enabled us to refine the performance of our additives to deliver added value for our customers and meet the needs of OEMs.”