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Title: Development of a machine-tooling-process integrated approach for abrasive flow machining (AFM) of difficult-to-machine materials with application to oil and gas exploration componenets
Author: Howard, Mitchell James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5351 3694
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2014
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Abrasive flow machining (AFM) is a non-traditional manufacturing technology used to expose a substrate to pressurised multiphase slurry, comprised of superabrasive grit suspended in a viscous, typically polymeric carrier. Extended exposure to the slurry causes material removal, where the quantity of removal is subject to complex interactions within over 40 variables. Flow is contained within boundary walls, complex in form, causing physical phenomena to alter the behaviour of the media. In setting factors and levels prior to this research, engineers had two options; embark upon a wasteful, inefficient and poor-capability trial and error process or they could attempt to relate the findings they achieve in simple geometry to complex geometry through a series of transformations, providing information that could be applied over and over. By condensing process variables into appropriate study groups, it becomes possible to quantify output while manipulating only a handful of variables. Those that remain un-manipulated are integral to the factors identified. Through factorial and response surface methodology experiment designs, data is obtained and interrogated, before feeding into a simulated replica of a simple system. Correlation with physical phenomena is sought, to identify flow conditions that drive material removal location and magnitude. This correlation is then applied to complex geometry with relative success. It is found that prediction of viscosity through computational fluid dynamics can be used to estimate as much as 94% of the edge-rounding effect on final complex geometry. Surface finish prediction is lower (~75%), but provides significant relationship to warrant further investigation. Original contributions made in this doctoral thesis include; 1) A method of utilising computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to derive a suitable process model for the productive and reproducible control of the AFM process, including identification of core physical phenomena responsible for driving erosion, 2) Comprehensive understanding of effects of B4C-loaded polydimethylsiloxane variants used to process Ti6Al4V in the AFM process, including prediction equations containing numerically-verified second order interactions (factors for grit size, grain fraction and modifier concentration), 3) Equivalent understanding of machine factors providing energy input, studying velocity, temperature and quantity. Verified predictions are made from data collected in Ti6Al4V substrate material using response surface methodology, 4) Holistic method to translating process data in control-geometry to an arbitrary geometry for industrial gain, extending to a framework for collecting new data and integrating into current knowledge, and 5) Application of methodology using research-derived CFD, applied to complex geometry proven by measured process output. As a result of this project, four publications have been made to-date – two peer-reviewed journal papers and two peer-reviewed international conference papers. Further publications will be made from June 2014 onwards.
Supervisor: Cheng, K.; Wrobel, L. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ; Technology Strategy Board (TSB)
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Abrasive flow machining ; Design of experiments ; Computational fluid dynamics ; Titanium 6A14V ; Environmental technology