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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Research infrastructures projects > Simulating metal forming processes
Graphic element Simulating metal forming processes

Metal-forming processes are used in many manufacturing areas, such as in the production of components for cars, aircraft and household appliances. The efficiency of the metal components will depend on the precision with which they are made, which in turn depends on the effects of metal-forming processes on the properties of the metal used. Simulation studies are often used to examine how a metal will behave when manipulated during production. But the accuracy of these simulation studies depends entirely on the information used to conduct the simulation. A team of scientists and businessmen across the EU have, therefore, come together to develop software that will facilitate the inclusion of accurate material data into simulation processes.

Metals are Magic

The special properties and indeed the beauty of some metals have made them highly valuable since time immemorial. Men have fought and died over precious metals like gold and silver. Today metals are in widespread use in more practical, albeit less glamorous applications, such as in the manufacture of aircraft and car components, household appliances and medical equipment. The performance and safety of these products depends on the processes and tools used to fashion the metal into the desired shapes. And in order that these processes are as efficient and economical as possible, we need accurate and precise information about how these metals are going to react when manipulated into the desired shapes.

Garbage in equals garbage out

Before carrying out real production processes, modern manufacturers use computer simulations to examine how a particular metal is going to behave when it is deformed during the manufacturing process. But these simulations are only as good as the data fed into the computer. And, as project leader Yvan Chastel of the CEMEF, Ecole des Mines de Paris, says, "If you put garbage in, you get garbage out."

With this mind, the TESTIFY project has put together a team of eight partners from five European countries to develop software for use in simulation techniques. The team will obtain material data from all the main classes of metals. "This data," according to Chastel, "will be used to develop software programs that take into account all the stresses experienced by a metal when it is deformed during the manufacturing process."

Metals may be rolled, stamped, twisted and contorted into complex shapes or heated to extremely high temperatures, all of which can affect the microstructure, and hence the physical properties of the metal. "We are going to conduct a series of tests on metal samples, such as aluminium, copper and steel, and use this data to come up with software that we can sell to industry," says Chastel. "It will also be applicable to many non-metal materials that are also used in industry, such as ceramics or plastics. This will allow us to develop the best manufacturing processes at the best price."

An extra dimension

The project, which began in March 2000 and is due to run for 3 years, has already reached an important milestone. "We have already reached the two-dimensional (2-D) level, which is the first level of difficulty in terms of shapes," says Chastel. "We have developed 2-D software that deals with metals in simple forms, like sheets or cylinders. And we are in partnership with a company that is commercialising this product and has made it available to industry."

The next stage is the production of 3-D software that will deal with the manipulation of metals into more complex shapes. Polish academic partner, the University of Mining and Metallury in Krakow, will play an important role in this task. "We are delighted to be involved in this kind of project," says Maciej Pietrzyk. "It provides us with the opportunity to exchange knowledge and to develop systems for our metal-forming systems. The funding we get from the EU will also help Poland, a newly associated state (NAS), to become more credible and competitive on the European market. And it gives us the opportunity to go in new research directions and work with new partners." The second Polish partner is Huta Czestochowa, a plate mill company that can provide industrial validation of tests used.

"This project is of value to people using metal across the globe," says Chastel. "There is a large push to use simulation to optimise industrial processes. It is important to have simulation tools to study how things perform in general. Good simulations require good simulation data, and that is where we come in. The software we produce will help to insure the success of EU industry but will also be of interest to the international community. We think that eventually we will be selling our product on the world market."

For more information on the TESTIFY project, see

Metals are Magic
Garbage in equals garbage out
An extra dimension

Key data


Research under the 'Measurements and testing' generic action of the Growth Programme supports the development of software for use in the design of tools used in metal-forming processes.


TESTIFY, Mechanical tests and identification for metal-forming projects (G6RD-CT-1900-00109)


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