Objective of Collaborative Research Center 666
The new technique of linear flow splitting makes it possible to produce integral sheet metal products with higher order bifurcations. The Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 666 was founded in July 2005 to exploit the enormous prospective potential of this technique, and to gain methodical tools to integrate it into the product development processes. The idea of this article is to introduce the research activities of the CRC 666. The main scientific approaches of new methods in product modeling, design, production and evaluation of branched sheet metal products are discussed.
In nature, branched structures are used for a lot of purposes. To name some examples, they can provide stability as in a leaf's branching or they can influence flows as in a bird's feather. Other applications of the principle of branched structures in nature are aspects as for instance lightweight design, reduction of noise, enlargement of surface, etc. Engineers utilize the numerous advan-tages of the principle of bifurcation when constructing sheet metal products. Many building components have branched structures to enlarge surfaces, increase stiffness, influence flows, transport material, etc. Moreover they are adopted in the areas of lightweight design, optics and acoustics. In many applications the branching can serve several purposes at the same time.
So far branched sheet metal structures were mainly produced in differential style, i.e. by gluing, welding or similar procedures or by material sheeting. These procedures have several disadvantages as they are heavier, have lower thermal conductivity, higher disposition to corrosion and are more likely to break due to the insta-bility at the connecting piece or the double layer. To avoid these disadvantages, the new technique of linear flow splitting as introduced in can be applied.
As this technique is at an early stage of development, a way to integrate it into the product designing process has to be evolved. Therefore the aim of the CRC 666 is to exemplify how branched sheet metal components can be constructed and designed automatically from scratch by using advanced computer based methods, only knowing what the customer requirements are, and finally to establish a prototypical production line..
The whole project is structured in the three main units of product development, production and evaluation. In every of these units new methodologies, techniques and proceedings arise. They cope with all occurring unique requirements of this new product category. Engineers are involved in the research centre as well as mathematicians and material scientists. Thus, synergetic effects as well as new problem formulations and research hypotheses due to the resulting interfaces between the different disciplines are expected.