Single point incremental forming (SPIF) is a dieless forming process which uses local deformations to form complex geometries. This is achieved through the use of a typically hemispherical tipped forming tool. Several variations of SPIF have been developed to improve the performance of this process. This includes the use of a partial die which is placed on the back-side of the material. The forming tool is then able to press the material into this partial die. Another method is to utilize a clamping fixture with a periphery that closely matches that of the desired geometry. While both of these methods improve the performance of SPIF, they also require dedicated fixturing. While these modifications still present an advantage over traditional stamping, it is desirable to avoid the use of any geometry-specific equipment.
Springback is a significant issue when performing traditional SPIF. Springback can occur in two different ways: local and global. Local springback results from the elastic deformations created outside the region located directly beneath the forming tool. This causes poor accuracy as a result. Compensation methods have been developed to overcome this type of springback but are faced with certain limitations. Global springback refers to the springback experienced once the material is removed from its clamping fixture. This springback is a result of all residual stresses produced during forming. This springback is much more difficult to reduce and often requires annealing the workpiece subsequent to forming.
A toolpath approach is explored herein as a method to reduce springback without the use of geometry-specific equipment. The toolpath developed begins at the edge of the clamping fixture, regardless of the geometry shape, and forms the flashing material prior to the desired geometry. By starting the toolpath along the edge of the fixture, elastic deformations are minimized. Additionally, the work hardening produced during this forming acts as a stiffener for the desired geometry, which behaves as a frame which matches the periphery of the desired geometry.
This method was experimentally tested for its accuracy improvements when forming a truncated pyramid from 5052 aluminum. The angle of this stiffener, the step size of the stiffener, and the size of the desired geometry were varied. The fixture dimensions were held constant. This method was found to reduce the overall springback of the part and increase the accuracy of the resulting geometry. Furthermore, it was found that a large step size can be used to form the stiffener section of the part. By using a large step size, the time it takes to form this sacrificial region is minimized.