A flexible surface tooling for sheet-forming processes: conceptual studies and numerical simulation

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Rao, P V M
Dhande, Sanjay G
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All sheet-forming processes suffer from a limitation that tooling in the form of molds/dies is a precursor for realizing any simple or complex shape. In order to overcome this limitation, discrete surface tooling has been proposed in the past. This consists of a large number of closely spaced surface tool elements arranged in a matrix form whose heights can be adjusted to approximate the contour of desired surface shapes. Such a tooling has been successfully demonstrated experimentally. In this paper, a variation of discrete surface tooling, called as flexible surface tooling, has been proposed. The proposed tooling consists of discrete surface tool elements draped with flexible sheet of rubber-like material to provide a continuous surface required for tooling applications. Computational simulation of the proposed tooling is carried out for feasibility studies. Computational simulation involves the deformation analysis of rubber-like membranes in multiple contact by FEM. The results of the analysis indicate that the flexible surface tooling is an option for sheet-forming processes in general and for processes like composite layup in particular.
Sheet-forming processes, Flexible surface tooling, Rubber-like material, Computational simulation