PhD Oral Exam - Lucas Abia Hoff, Mechanical Engineering
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
With the fourth industrial revolution manufacturing industry faces new challenges. Small batches of personalized parts, where the geometry changes per part, must be produced in an economically viable manner. In such cases of mass personalization new manufacturing technologies are required which can keep manufacturing overhead related to change of part geometries low. These processes need to address the issues of extensive calibration and tooling costs, must be able to handle complex parts and reduce production steps. According to recent studies hybrid technologies, including electrochemical technologies, are promising to address these manufacturing challenges.
At the same time, glass has fascinated and attracted much interest from both the academic and industrial world, mainly because it is optically and radio frequency transparent, chemically inert, environmentally friendly and it has excellent mechanical and thermal properties, allowing tailoring of new and dedicated applications. However, glass is a hard to machine material, due to its hardness and brittleness. Machining smooth, high-aspect ratio structures is still challenging due to long machining times, high machining costs and poor surface quality. Hybrid methods like Spark Assisted Chemical Engraving (SACE) perform well to address these issues.
Nevertheless, SACE cannot be deployed for high-precision glass mass-personalization by industry and academia, due to 1) lack of process models for glass cutting and milling, relating SACE input parameters to a desired output, 2) extensive calibration needed for tool-workpiece alignment and tool run-out elimination, 3) part specific tooling required for proper clamping of the glass workpiece to attain high precision.
In this study, SACE technology was progressively developed from a mass-fabrication technology towards a process for mass-personalization of high-precision glass parts by addressing these issues. Key was the development of 1) an (empirically validated) model for SACE cutting and milling process operations allowing direct relation of the machining input to the desired machining outcome, enabling a dramatical increase of automation across the manufacturing process workflow from desired design to establishing of machinable code containing all necessary manufacturing execution information, 2) in-situ fabrication of the needed tooling and 3) the use of low-cost rapid prototyping, eliminating high indirect machining costs and long lead times.
To show the viability of this approach two novel applications in the microtechnology field were proposed and developed using glass as substrate material and SACE technology for rapid prototyping: a) fabrication of glass imprint templates for microfabricating devices by hot embossing and b) manufacturing of glass dies for micro-forming of metal micro parts.