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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Extended life tools for extreme drilling and coring operations on complex rock materials.

Objectives of the commitment

The expected targets are:
• Producing some composite material with enhanced wear resistance and working life
• Evaluating the interaction between heterogeneous rocks and drilling and/or cutting tool surface
• Studying the abrasion and consumption of both hard phases and their components (in case of bits) and of binder or bits holders
• Producing reliable prognoses on cutter wear, drilling progress and related costs
• Evaluating the influence of cooling and lubricants, also on the point of view of type, morphology, dimension and rock hardness.
• The supply of energy is of critical importance too, in order to achieve high production rates, and innovative new models of the equipment may present operational problems. To improve productivity, both alternative energy supply and drilling heads will be investigated, also on the basis of a newly conceived design of tool materials.

Description of the activities

The improvement of the performance of the tools, in the excavation process, is an extremely important factor both in terms of cost and operational efficiency.
In rock excavation, metallic parts of picks, cutters, drilling tools, discs and so on are employed to break or cut the rock. The parts are subjected to serious damage at the metal-rock contact points. Most of this damage is due to the metal removal caused by scratches and pits on the metal surface (metal wear).
Rock strength is a property mainly dependent on the nature of the rock itself. Rock excavability, on the other hand, depends not only on the rock, but also on the working conditions, as well as the cutting process (depth of cut, tool size, cutting speed, axial force, presence and extent of wetting, and so on); the interaction with cutting, drilling and machining tools is therefore very difficult, since a continuous modification in the contact mechanisms between the tool and the different rock constituents occurs.
Both rocks and metals are then inhomogeneous at the scale of the minute scratches whose cumulative effect is wear. Total metal loss is greater than that due to wear, because some parts are scrapped away before metal is completely worn, but metal wear is especially important, because it dictates the "service life" (and reciprocally, the "replacement rate") of the wear parts.
Therefore, industries involved in rock materials processing are highly dependent on cutting tools performances in order to maintain the competitiveness on international market and EU leadership in the production of technologies for hard rock cutting. Thus, an increase in the tool lifetime could dramatically improve both quality and final processing cost of the equipment.
In metals, an increase of wear resistance is usually accompanied by a decrease of toughness, whereas in rocks the opposite is true. Thus, the wear/breakage interplay is complex, as breakage is partially a consequence of wear. Furthermore, the wear/breakage borderline is arbitrarily set; how big can be the damage due to breakage instead of wear is a question open to debate.
The feasibility and applicability of an excavation machine has to be examined depending on a detailed site investigation including the geological, hydrological and geotechnical conditions. Tool–rock interaction, which involves rock brittleness, tool stiffness, tool bluntness, is taken into account in determining the cuttability that also leads to define the specific energy. However, the tool forces acting on a pick is the dominant parameter for rock cuttability; they can be measured by full- scale cutting tests in the laboratory or estimated by using analytical or empirical formulas.
The rock cutting tests carried out in the laboratory is also the most successful, reliable and efficient method to observe tool– rock interaction and estimate the tool forces. Although the cutting tests take a long time and expensive processes, the tool forces obtained from the tests can be used as an input for the design and selection of the machine. However, theoretical, semi-empirical and empirical models can be used for tool force estimation in the absence of a rock-cutting rig. Tool-rock interaction can be clearly visualized and the cutting forces can be shortly evaluated depending on tool wear in the modeling. Then, a further aim of this research is to model the rock cutting test and compare the results with those obtained from theoretical and experimental studies. The relationships between these studies will be also investigated and statistically supported.

Description of the expected impacts

This commitment brings together expertise from the industries with people from the academic world, with the aim to produce new appealing products that will revitalize the rock exploitation in difficult conditions.
The current knowledge and technologies allow to produce, and suggest, the most suitable tools for different types of materials and rocks. However, the same manufacturers, sometimes leaders in the industry, require huge efforts to the research for the choice of materials, coatings, tool geometries and related technologies, making it possible to lengthen their life in extreme situations when drilling high hardness rocks, or in cases where rocks with marked heterogeneity of composition, hardness or abrasiveness are encountered.
The opportunity to exploit strategic minerals potentially attractive worldwide, although they are hardly excavated due to the extreme abrasiveness and hardness of the rock, or due to the great depths where they are located (i.e. more than 3000 m under water) is a primary goal. The technical and economic limit, dictated on the one hand by the excessive consumption of tools and energy, on the other by unsustainable excavating and processing costs, in fact, still influences, especially in Europe, the accessibility to strategically interesting ore-bodies, both on-shore and off-shore.
This commitment aims to overcome those limits and propose innovative solutions, to achieve production targets in Europe both environmentally friends and sustainable even under difficult conditions.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: Politecnico di Torino – Environment, Land and Infrastructure Department (DIATI)Country: ItalyEntity profile: AcademiaRole within the commitment:

The DIATI - PoliTo will coordinate the research and will act as a liking actor among industry and academia. PoliTo has experts in rock mechanics and excavation technologies, Mining, Civil Construction and Tunnelling, with specifics expertise in mechanical excavation techniques.

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.


Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.


Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.


Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: No

Period to implement the commitment: from 14-03-2016 to 14-03-2018