Over the course of two summer placements I was able to gather a lot of research about press form manufacturing, working for a company called Gestamp. This led me to the conclusion that writing about this process would allow for plenty of research to be undertaken to fully understand what this process holds and how it stands in industry today. The focus on sustainability was a key factor, as I am fully aware of the increase in the need for recycling and how big companies ensure that their processes are sustainable, both environmentally and economically.
My time in industry showed me that press forming is still a widely used practice and that there are many applications that use press forming to create both small scale and large scale products. As the company uses their machinery to press form car body parts, I was able to learn that the majority of the materials used in the process are used to create the parts with only 30% of the raw materials were wasted. This waste however, adds to the economic sustainability of the process as its then sold onto scrap merchants who recycle the waste and the money from this is then given back to original producer of the raw material to allow for purchasing and manufacturing of new materials.
Figure 1 (Blanking Vs Punching)
When initially writing my technical report, focusing on the technology was vital to get across exactly how press forming works, including the different processes presses go through to produce a variety products. This included the basic operation presses perform through punching and blanking and the different types of press, including Hydraulic, Mechanical and Servo that all use different types of driving motion to form the metal sheets into the desired shape. Punching and blanking shown in figure 1 and the types of presses shown in figures 2 respectively.
Figure 2 (Gupta and Prateek, n.d.) (Tyagi, 2012) (Aida-global.com, 2008)
As further research showed just focusing on the technology was not appropriate as the materials used in this process were vital to understand exactly how the process works and why it is still viable in today industries.
From this, time was spent understanding the different types of metal that were used in mass producing parts from press forming. It was clear to me that steel and aluminum were the main materials used in press forming, this is shown by the research undertaken, showing how these types of metals can produce high strength products with low weights, that when certain forces applied to the sheet metal can be deformed into a variety of desire shapes. The basics of which can be shown in figure 3 below, showing how metals are deformed due to the amount of strain applied.
Figure 3 (Suradi, 2017) (a) (Necking Diagram) (b)
The process of writing my technical report has so far taught me about correct writing skills, being able to interpret the information I was gathering from books, articles and research documents I was reading.
It was from this point that I started to consider the sustainable aspects of other manufacturing processes and how the use of press forming, which is a sustainable process, can replace other un-sustainable processes. I quickly realised that producing anything from plastic can create a non-recyclable product and even with today’s technology, we are still not recycling enough waste as we could. This led me to finding the need for a new design, simply design out plastics.
This idea of designing out plastics is something that I will be considering for future design project. It was intriguing to see how much man-kind wastes and the problems this causes. If all it takes is to consider different materials and the way we use products, it is a shame that we don’t do more as society to provide the most sustainable future we can.
After understanding that a massive 42% of all ‘bulky waste’ was furniture (Thersa.org, 2015), it was clear to me that, even with the amount of chairs out there that could replace plastic, there is still not a design that can be quickly manufactured, completely recycled, and easy to produce in large quantities, replacing the need for the mass production of plastic chairs.
Figure 4 (Concept Design)
For me, this project became increasingly interesting as it moved from the technology of press forming, to the understanding of a new design, to the design itself. At this point, when coming up with the concepts for the design, I was able to use the research and knowledge I had gained to understand what features the design would need and how it would be manufactured. Shown in figure 4.
The final design (figure 5) came about as a combination of: the evaluation of each concept, further research into the comfort and stack-ability of a chair and the addition of a feature to both strengthen and reduce the weight of the overall design.
Figure 5 (Final Chair Concept)
As shown here I was able to develop and come up with a new design for a press formed chair. This has taught me how to correctly design for press form manufacturing, including the features than can be added to the design, and the overall form that can be achieved. I believe that with more development the aesthetic and the weight of the chair can be improved for better use.
Throughout this project, research was done to find the relevant information using all manner of documentation including: books, articles, web references, imagery and primary sources. This enabled me to put together a coherent report about the process of press forming and the sustainable aspect is involves.
Upon reflection, I have enjoyed learning about the process of press forming and how it still plays a significant role in today’s society. The implications of having such a sustainable process has allowed me to appreciate to different style of manufacturing and how every day plastic objects can and should be turned into re-usable, renewable products that have a minimal effect on the environment. Being able to design a new product around press forming was a significant process to help me further my knowledge on the subject and produce a new design that would suit a wide variety of people. If I were to re-visit this, I would aim to undergo more research into the process of renewable energies, giving more focus on the other manufacturing processes that are fully sustainable.
This project has given me an insight into my future, from this I am considering a career in the manufacturing industry helping to develop new techniques to reduce waste and lower the environmental impact that the industry is still accountable for. It seems that the manufacturing industry primarily prioritises profit; I would like to change, through design, the industry, to better focus on sustainable practice in broadest sense. Not only working towards environmental sustainability but also ensuring the sustainment of a company and the industry. This will be done by critiquing the process that all products go through thus attempting to reduce waste, increase re-usability, and encourage recycling.
Thersa.org. (2015). Report: The Great Recovery – Rearranging the Furniture – RSA. [online] Available at: https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/reports/the-great-recovery-rearranging-the-furniture [Accessed 7 Dec. 2017].
[Figure 1] Blanking Vs Punching, Image Authors own.
[Figure 2] Gupta and Prateek (n.d). NC Hydraulic Press Brakes | Micro Hydro Technic. [online] Microhydrotechnic.net. Available at: http://www.microhydrotechnic.net/nc-hydraulic-press-brakes/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].
&Tyagi, V. (2012). sheet metal working. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/vivcool1/sheet-metal [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
& Aida-global.com. (2008). Servo Press Technology, DSF Series, Direct Drive Servo Presses, from AIDA. [online] Available at: https://www.aida-global.com/direct-drive-servo-former/#1_1 [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
[Figure 3] (a) Suradi, E. (2017). Why does the stress-strain curve decrease?. [online] Engineering.stackexchange.com. Available at: https://engineering.stackexchange.com/questions/13583/why-does-the-stress-strain-curve-decrease [Accessed 4 Dec. 2017].
[Figure 3] (b) Necking Diagram, Image authors own
[Figure 4] Concept Design, Image authors own
[Figure 5] Final Chair Concept, Image Authors own