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CRM Group in Belgium uses a Deben three point bending stage in the development of new steel & coated steel products for automotive.

CRM Group  has  facilities  in Liège and  Gent  in  Belgium  where  R&D  and  technology  solutions  are offered to industrial partners working  with metallic materials. The group has  skilled and experienced research  teams  with  unparalleled  testing  facilities  covering  the  whole  manufacture  chain  of  metals, from  raw materials  to  advanced  steel  applications,  ranging  in  size from laboratory  scale to  pilot  and even semi-industrial production lines. Dr Xavier Vanden Eynde works at CRMGroup in Liège. Part of Xavier’s main goals is to improve the analytic and imaging capabilities for the support for the development of new processes, steel grades or coated products for a wide range of applications such as automotive and  appliance industry. The understanding of the local mechanical behaviour during bending is an important issue to evaluate the flexibility of coating and metal  bare  substrate.  Deben has  been  chosen  by  CRMGroup  through  a competitive  tender  and  the  equipment  has  been  financially  granted  by  the 2007-2013  FEDER programs  from  the  EU  (funding  in  the  framework  of “CLEARZINC/CLEARZINC SEM-FEG”  project).CRM   want   to   acknowledge   the   Walloon   Region   and   the   European   Fund   for   Regional Development for this support.CRMGroup  in  conjunction  with  Deben  have  developed  a  new  micro-machine  to  investigate  this bending behaviour of metal sheet.

The Deben 3-point bending stage developed with CRMGroup for metals testing. The image shows the side view of the bending micromachine. Left image) no deformation, the sample is flat. Right image) the sample has been bent by the jaws pushing down so the point of interest of the sample does not move

The set-up of this device is similar to a 3-point bending test but, in this case, the punch or anvil is fixed and the die moves. Using such a tool configuration, it is possible to  keep  the  surface  of  the  sample  at  the  same  position  during  the  bending  process  and  then  to characterise  the  evolution  in  real  time  of  the  bend  with  either  an  optical  microscope  or  a  scanning electron microscope (SEM). Dr Vanden Eynde describes the status of the project. “This stage is a prototype. It will be an important tool to understand the flexibility of a large variety of flat products. In one measurement we can have complete and continuous information about the flexibility.  For example, this new microstage offers a high  angle  for  bending  and  then,  we  have  been  able  to  investigate  the  origin  of  crack  initiation  and propagation.”The work is at an early stage but has shown great promise. Samples investigated to date include the SEM study of changes to a steel surface as a function of bending radius. This is also referred to as the T-bend value as a function of the die position. In the images below, a sample is shown without deformation and after bending caused by the die pushing up. At each bending radius, the surface on the top of the bend is recorded and from image analysis, the number of cracks and the crack area are determined manually or through an image analysis algorithm. From this work, it is concluded that the characterisation  of  the  bending  properties  of  metal  sheet  in  a  one-step  experiment,  it is  possible  to determine  the  number  of  cracks  and  their  dimension  during  bending.  The visualisation of crack initiation and propagation will be useful for the next developments of coatings or coating strategies as well as to understand in-depth crack sensitivity and coating flexibility. This Microtest three point bending  stage  designed to  meet the experimental needs of CRMGroup is an  excellent  example  of  the  commitment  of  Deben  to  provide  one-off  solutions  for  their  users.

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