Your everyday permanent markers, glue sticks and packing tape may offer a surprisingly low-tech solution to a long-standing nuisance in the manufacturing industry: Making soft and ductile, or so-called “gummy” metals easier to cut.
What makes inks and adhesives effective isn’t their chemical content, but their stickiness to the surface of any gummy metal such as nickel, aluminum, stainless steels or copper, researchers at Purdue University and the University of West Florida find in a study recently published in Physical Review Applied.
These adhesives help achieve a smoother, cleaner and faster cut than current machining processes, impacting applications ranging from the manufacturing of orthopedic implants and surgical instruments to aerospace components.
“A wide range of products rely on the machining of gummy metals. These could be something we use every day, such as the valve in a sink faucet, or something more critical like a compressor part in the jet engine of an airplane,” said James Mann, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of West Florida and Purdue alumnus.
If a significant improvement can be made to the “machinability” of gummy metals or alloys – which is how well they cut, drill or grind – then there is potential to lower the cost of products, improve their performance or enable new and improved designs.
“Gummy metals characteristically deform in a very wiggly manner,” said Srinivasan Chandrasekar, Purdue professor of industrial engineering. “This wiggly flow involves significant energy consumption, which means that these metals require more force to machine than even some hard metals. We needed to find a way to suppress this wiggly flow.”
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Filed Under: Materials • advanced