Year of Publication


Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Alan T. Male


Sheet metal forming has found increasing applications in modern industries. To eliminate use of expensive tools during product development, thermal forming, a rapid prototyping process that is flexible enough to decrease costs has been developed. Thermal forming processes use a heat source to perform the required deformation mainly by creating a thermal difference along the thickness of the sheet. Gas flames, lasers and plasma heat sources have been used for sheet metal bending by thermal forming. An alternative to laser and gas flames, plasma-jet forming has been developed that uses a non-transferred plasma arc as a heat source. The plasma-jet forming system uses a highly controllable non-transferred plasma torch as a heat source to create the necessary thermal gradient in the sheet metal that causes the required plastic deformation. Various experiments to produce simple linear bends and other complex shapes have been conducted by using different scanning options and coupling techniques. A computer simulated model using finite element method is being developed to study key parameters affecting this process and also to measure the thermal transient temperature distribution during the process. A predictive model to relate the deformation to the temperature gradient for various materials is being developed. Simulation results that are in accordance to experimental observations will further improve this material forming process to be highly controllable and more accurate