INCREMENTAL SHEET FORMING

Stainless steel research for Victorinox’s I.N.O.X. watch division.

Victorinox asked ECAL students to explore new possibilities for stainless steel in the watch industry. My research focused on advanced metal sheet and tube forming, which led me to Incremental Sheet Forming, a process in which a numerically controlled die creates progressive incisions in a metal sheet, shaping it into a volume.

Incremental sheet forming could potentially replace milling, allow for pieces to be assembled together, and use less material in the process. The limitations of this project are the current radius of the indenting tool and the hardness of stainless steel as opposed to low-carbon steel or aluminium.

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Three proposed pieces to show how the natural machine tooling could impact the aesthetic qualities of watch components.

 

ISF has been used to prototype functional car parts, architectural modules, and medical bone implants. My objective was to offer an alternative to milling the parts of the watch case (case, bezel, bottom lid). My research findings were backed by the IBF Institute of Metal Forming of RWTH Aachen University.

Two directions were proposed for this project. One was to design straightforward pieces for a Victorinox x ECAL exhibition. The main focus was on the aesthetic qualities made on the metal surface with the indenting tool. This aesthetic direction was more feasible in the required time and cost frame. The other direction shows how ISF could be applied in watchmaking in the long term, with new types of indenting tools or by working with a 6-axis head to vary the direction of the tool.

 

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3D printed prototypes and a sample of ISF on DC04 Steel.

 

ISF simulation copy
ISF Production simulation

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