Soft4Sense and MCtool21 organized a final seminar to present their scientific advances in improving the durability and efficacy of industry tools

The exponential technological evolution of the last decades has enabled industries to evolve and find ways to take advantage of it and optimize their product manufacturing chains and tools. With technologies such as smart tools, robotics, and artificial intelligence gaining constant relevance, professionals need to study and develop solutions that can be applied in their industries. However, all of this should consider sustainability, introducing environmentally friendly practices into manufacturing processes, either by using “greener” alternatives or optimizing processes to reduce waste without compromising the efficacy of machinery.

MCTool21 and Soft4Sense are two UT Austin Portugal Strategic Research Projects with very similar and complementary goals in this regard: one has been developing an optimized green coating system and simulation tools to improve the cutting performance of hard-to-machine materials (MCTool21) and reduce wear and tear; the other has been creating a smart surface for multilayer integration on thin films, allowing their deposition on tools, without mechanical/electrical integrity problems (Soft4Sense).

Now that both projects have come to an end, they gathered at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) to present their developments. During the afternoon of September 4, the interdisciplinary teams in Portugal and Texas presented the work developed over three years.

The MCTool21 project, which involves the partners Inovatools, University of Coimbra, University of Minho, UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering and Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, has shared more information on thin film materials for machining tools, the macroscopic constitutive model and the simulations they developed, and on how the tools performed in real conditions.

With the results accomplished within the MCTool21 project, industries can transform the design of dry-lubrication cutting tools from being based on a trial-and-error approach to predictive engineering analysis. However, Gregory Rodin, Principal Investigator of the project at UT Austin, states that these efforts will only come to fruition if the industry commits resources for implementing the theory in the finite element code DEFORM3D (a tool that predicts the material flow in industrial forming operations) and carrying out validation experiments.

During the Soft4Sense presentation, each of the partners (TEandM, IPN, International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering) had the opportunity to present their developments. The researchers shared how they performed and optimized the embedding of the sensors with the multilayer thin coating, demonstrated the software interface they developed, and disclosed how the sensing device was tested in service.

Bruno Martins, researcher at IPN, outlined the project’s next steps: optimize the multilayer system developed for temperature measurement, addressing issues like material compatibility, sensor performance, and layer adhesion. The industry will greatly benefit from the project’s outcomes by integrating advanced sensors into industrial processes dependent on temperature control, leading to optimized operations and reduced failure rates. “Process optimization ensures superior-quality products, minimizing material waste and adhering to sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing practices”, adds Bruno.

The desire to strengthen this collaboration between Portugal and Austin is clear. For that, the team looks to secure future funding. “There is still much to accomplish, and these collaborative research efforts can greatly benefit both countries”, shared the researcher.



These two projects have been covered on our Cross Talks podcast. You are invited to listen to the two episodes and find out more.