P 1247 – Prototyping of metallic bipolar plates by means of incremental micro-forming
The objective of the project is the manufacturing of bipolar plates with the help of incremental forming for prototyping purposes. The tool development, the determination of forming strategies as well as the testing of the manufactured plates in a fuel cell are the main aspects of the working program.
The prevailing approach to assess the efficiency of new plate designs are experimental investigations. Although only a small number of plates (1 – 10 pieces) is required for this purpose, deep drawing or hydroforming processes are widely used for the prototype production. The required dies for this production process entail high costs and are an obstruction if it comes to the development of innovative approaches.
Using the incremental forming process, the costs for the prototyping process of bipolar plates can be significantly reduced. This is due to the low mechanical loading of the die which allows the use of low-cost tooling concepts. A basic challenge of the project is the development of a forming tool suitable for the small scale geometries of the bipolar plates. Minimizing the friction between tool and workpiece is an additional boundary condition for the tool development to avoid workpiece failure during the forming process. The formed reference geometries are rated regarding their geometrical accuracy. The complex demonstrator parts will additionally be tested regarding their operation performance in a fuel cell.
Using the incremental micro-forming technology for prototyping purposes leads to considerable competitive advantages in terms of reduced financial risks and shortened development process. The required machine tool for die production and incremental micro-forming are available even in small companies with limited equipments. Thus, new business areas can be accessed without need for excessive investment. Small and medium-sized companies can either form parts using the incremental microforming process or produce the required tooling.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. A. E. Tekkaya, Prof. Dr. A. Heinzel