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Comparison between an Advanced Numerical Simulation of Sheet Incremental Forming Using Adaptive Remeshing and Experimental Results

Recently, new sheet metal forming technique, incremental forming has been introduced. It is based on using a single spherical tool, which is moved along CNC controlled tool path. During the incremental forming process, the sheet blank is fixed in sheet holder. The tool follows a certain tool path and progressively deforms the sheet. Nowadays, numerical simulations of metal forming are widely used by industry to predict the geometry of the part, stresses and strain during the forming process. Because incremental forming is a dieless process, it is perfectly suited for prototyping and small volume production [1, 2]. On the other hand, this process is very slow and therefore it can only be used when a slow series production is required. As the sheet incremental forming process is an emerging process which has a high industrial interest, scientific efforts are required in order to optimize the process and to increase the knowledge of this process through experimental studies and the development of accurate simulation models. In this paper, a comparison between numerical simulation and experimental results is realized in order to assess the suitability of the numerical model. The experimental investigation is realized using a three-axis CNC milling machine. The forming tool consists in a cylindrical rotating punch with a hemispherical head. A subroutine has been developed to describe the tool path from CAM procedure. A numerical model has been developed to simulate the sheet incremental forming process. The finite element code Abaqus explicit has been used. The simulation of the incremental forming process stays a complex task and the computation time is often prohibitive for many reasons. During this simulation, the blank is deformed by a sequence of small increments that requires many numerical increments to be performed. Moreover, the size of the tool diameter is generally very small compared to the size of the metal sheet and thus the contact zone between the tool and the sheet is limited. As the tool deforms almost every part of the sheet, small elements are required everywhere in the sheet resulting in a very high computation time. In this paper, an adaptive remeshing method has been used to simulate the incremental forming process. This strategy, based on adaptive refinement and coarsening procedures avoids having an initially fine mesh, resulting in an enormous computing time. Experiments have been carried out using aluminum alloy sheets. The final geometrical shape and the thickness profile have been measured and compared with the numerical results. These measurements have allowed validating the proposed numerical model. References [1] M. Yamashita, M. Grotoh, S.-Y. Atsumi, Numerical simulation of incremental forming of sheet metal, J. Processing Technology, No. 199 (2008), p. 163 172. [2] C. Henrard, A.M. Hbraken, A. Szekeres, J.R. Duflou, S. He, P. Van Houtte, Comparison of FEM Simulations for the Incremental Forming Process, Advanced Materials Research, 6-8 (2005), p. 533-542.

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