New trends in sheet metal forming are rapidly developing and several new forming processes have been proposed to accomplish the goals of flexibility and cost reduction. Among them, Incremental CNC sheet forming operations (ISF) are a relatively new sheet metal forming processes for small batch production and prototyping. In single point incremental forming (SPIF), the final shape of the component is obtained by the CNC relative movements of a simple and small punch which deform a clamped blank into the desired shape and which appear quite promising. No other dies are required than the ones used in any conventional sheet metal forming processes. As it is well known, the design of a mechanical component requires some decisions about the mechanical resistance and geometrical quality of the parts and the product has to be manufactured with a careful definition of the process set up. The use of computers in manufacturing has enabled the development of several new sheet metal forming processes, which are based upon older technologies. Although standard sheet metal forming processes are strongly controlled, new processes like single point incremental sheet forming can be improved. The SPIF concept allows to increase flexibility and to reduce set up costs. Such a process has a negative effect on the shape accuracy by initiating undesired rigid movement and sheet thinning. In the paper, the applicability of the numerical technique and the experimental test program to incremental forming of sheet metal is examined. Concerning the numerical simulation, a static implicit finite element code ABAQUS/Standard is used. These two techniques emphasize the necessity to control some process parameters to improve the final product quality. The reported approaches were mainly focused on the influence of four process parameters on the punch force trends generated in this forming process, the thickness and the equivalent plastic deformation distribution within the whole volume of the workpiece: the initial sheet thickness, the wall angle, the workpiece geometry and the nature of tool path contours controlled through CNC programming. The tool forces required to deform plastically the sheet around the contact area are discussed. The effect of the blank thickness and the tool path on the punch load and the deformation behaviour is also examined with respect to several tool paths. Furthermore, the force acting on the traveling tool is also evaluated. Similar to the sheet thickness, the effect of wall angle and part geometry on the load evolution, the distribution of calculated equivalent plastic strain and the variation of sheet thickness strain are also discussed. Experimental and numerical results obtained allow having a better knowledge of mechanical and geometrical responses from different parts manufactured by SPIF with the aim to improve their accuracy. It is also concluded that the numerical simulation might be exploited for optimization of the incremental forming process of sheet metal.
Keywords: Single point incremental forming SPIF; CNC programming; Experimental approach; Finite element modeling; Aluminum sheets thickness; Tool force evolution