Researchers aim to double the life of machine tools

Huddersfield University has joined a €6.2m project aimed at doubling the life of machine tools.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and includes 14 partners, including universities, research institutes and engineering companies.

Huddersfield University – home to the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology – is the sole representative from the UK.

Dubbed EASE-R3, the research is co-ordinated by the Italian engineering firm Fidia, which has been a frequent collaborator with metrologists at the Huddersfield University.

Dr Andrew Longstaff, Dr Simon Fletcher and Professor Alan Myers are the Huddersfield experts who will be leading the development of one module of the three-year project, the overall goal of which is develop new and cost-effective systems for repair, renovation and re-use. 

Depending on its size and how heavily it is used, a machine – possibly costing half a million pounds – could last for up to 10 years.  

In a statement Dr Longstaff said: ‘The carcass of the machine probably won’t be damaged after years of use, but it becomes necessary to replace the drive systems and all the components that can wear down and need to be repaired.

‘Not only would better maintenance and repair mean cost savings for a company, but there would also be wider environmental benefits, resulting from the reuse of parts and lower energy consumption.’

EASE-R3 aims to develop new models for maintenance and repair and the Huddersfield team will take the lead on the design and prototype production of a compact module, incorporating laser technology that can be fitted to a machine tool to ensure that it retains its accuracy at the point of renovation.