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Original Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmrt.2018.06.021
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Available online 3 September 2018
Analysis on drilling of woven glass fibre reinforced aluminium sandwich laminates
Gopalakrishnan Ramya Devia,b, Kayaroganam Palanikumarc,
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Corresponding author.
a Sathyabama University, Chennai, India
b Department of Mechanical Engineering, St. Peter's College of Engineering and Technology, Chennai, India
c Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sri Sai Ram Institute of Technology, Chennai 600044, India
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Received 15 January 2018, Accepted 13 June 2018
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Tables (6)
Table 1. Drilling input parameters.
Table 2. Taguchi L27 orthogonal array and experimental results.
Table 3. Model summary statistics for thrust force and torque.
Table 4. Results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) for thrust force (quadratic model).
Table 5. Results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) for torque (quadratic model).
Table 6. Result of Actual and Predicted responses generated by using the model.
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Fibre metal laminates being used in aerospace industries becomes primary composite material under research, since its application finds on the outer covering of the fuselage skin structure, the holes are need to be drilled on it, to assemble it. The effective way of getting good quality hole is to minimize the responses thrust force and torque engendered during the drilling operation. It is achieved through proper choosing of suitable process parameters. The main parameters that have a high impact on the response is feed rate and drill diameter. This paper mainly deals with optimizing the parameters that alter the response in drilling fibre metal sandwich laminate by solid carbide drill bit.

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Composite laminates have wide and enormous applications in aerospace industries. The increase in demands for light weight materials leads to the use of sandwich laminates. These are finding applications in many parts of the automobile, aircraft and other industries. It possesses remarkable properties, which makes it very popular in many fields of engineering [1]. Fibre with polymer matrix composites is also able to find applications in structural and related fields due to their ease of fabrication ability, comparatively low price and have better mechanical properties compared to polymer resins [2]. Compared to conventional metals, it has an excellent fatigue and variable directional strength. Among the composite laminates, fibre metal laminates are the most significant which possess the combination of the distinctive properties of metal and fibre [3]. For the assembly of the fibre metal laminates, holes are to be drilled. Conventional drilling is the economical and more frequently used machining operation for drilling holes in the fibre metal laminates, but many challenges arises during drilling of fibre metal composites because of its divergent properties. Delamination is one among them, which is a very undesirable occurrence produced due to the local deformation in the area at the point of contact of drill. To control this undesirability and also to lower the thrust and twisting force developed throughout the drilling operation, a suitable choice of input factors are important. In order to optimize these factors, many researchers worldwide are doing research and creating models to predict these responses. One such analytical model is being developed and used to forecast crucial thrust force at the commencement of separation of laminates. They also analyzed the effect of feed rate too, the model has an advantage of avoiding delamination through thrust watching, it is detected and reduced accordingly using adaptive control and the perfect feed rate can be used to maximize productivity [4]. Chatterjee et al. [5] analyzed the influence of various drilling input parameters for drilling a titanium alloy with coated drill. They used DEFORM-3D software to develop the simulation model and compared the performance with experimental results. The surface roughness and dimensional inaccuracies of the drilled hole on GFR-PP composite material are studied by developing a model and the effect of several drilling input factors on them are also studied [6].

The superiority of a drilled hole is governed mainly through the feed rate than any other cutting variables in drilling polypropylene (PP) based composite materials [7]. Drill bit having double margin produces reliable thrust than brad and spur drill. Also it would produce holes with least circularity errors [8]. Lilly mercy et al. [9] have studied the drilling hole quality of the self healing-GFRP composite laminates and studied the temperature variation and thrust developed during the process. They have obtained Pareto optimal solutions using Genetic multi-response optimization. Palanikumar et al. [10] have discussed the impact of input factors on thrust force generated while drilling an aluminium metal matrix combinations made-up by a stir casting method. The results of their study specified that feed is foremost variable that affects hybrid metal matrix composites. The granite fibre reinforced composites is studied by [11], they have studied the thrust force for these composites, Vankanti and Ganta [12] have scrutinized the effects of several input aspects in hole making process of glass fibre reinforced composite laminates using HSS drill bit. They also used a Taguchi method to optimize the factors that has more influence. Kumar et al. [13] have analyzed the glass fibre reinforced vinyl ester composites during drilling process and have examined the surface finish of the drilled hole. Palanikumar et al. [14,15] have examined the significance of input factors on delamination of the glass fibre reinforced composites after the drilling process and established a model to predict it. They also investigated the performance of 4-flute end milling tool for drilling glass fibre with polymer and concluded that this tool outperformed the twist drill. Kadirgama et al. [16] investigated the milling operation using combination of response surface method coupled with finite element analysis.

The numerical analysis of the damage was appropriate in evaluating the indemnities formed in CFRP after the drilling process [17]. Delaminations, fibre pull out, edge chipping, matrix cracking are certain complications faced during drilling of composite laminates [18]. Bagci and Ozcelik [19] have suggested a model to foresee the temperature at a workpiece tool tip interface for the drilling of aluminium and steel using titanium aluminium nitride coated drill bit without coolant. Palanikumar et al. [20] have utilized the central composite design for predicting the responses that affect the quality of a drilled hole in composites. Cantero et al. [21] have experimented drilling operation on titanium based alloy with coated drill bit with varying machining conditions without coolant. Optimal machining condition is emphasized for reduced tool wear and increased tool life. Hocheng and Tsao [22–24] considered a different type of loading on a variety of drill bits to analyze the force criticality on delamination. Sakthivel et al. [25] categorized the experimental methods adopted by the various research investigators in drilling of composites materials and focussed on the polymer matrix composites. Panneer Selvan et al. [26] appreciated that the use of the multi-response optimization and Taguchi technique will achieve cutting parameters that induce damage free drilling. Dhiraj et al. [27] underwent the performance study of three dissimilar tools in drilling glass fibre reinforced polymer composites and used an image processed technique to analyze a damaged area. Drilling factors play a major part in the discrepancy of thrust force, regardless of indemnities throughout the drilling process [28].

From the analysis of the above literature, it has been inferred that the drilling of sandwich laminate is essential for the industry and is the need for the present day situation. Also, the work carried out on drilling of glass fibre reinforced composite laminate is very limited and hence in this work, an effort has been made to scrutinize the impact of input parameters on thrust and twisting force (torque) generated while using solid carbide drill in hole making of glass fibre reinforced aluminium sandwich laminate. The experiments are carried out systematically by incorporating the Taguchi's method in the design of experiments scheme. The modelling of the responses thrust force and torque are carried out by using response surface methodology (RSM). The effect of parameters and interaction effects are studied in detail and presented.

2Materials and methods

In this analysis, aluminium and glass fibre mat is used as work material. The sandwich laminate is fabricated with the Aluminium sheet AA 1050 and Woven Roving Mat (WRM) of glass fibre reinforced with epoxy resin. The Hand Layup process is used to make the sandwich laminates. Aluminium sheet is scratched on both surfaces using emery paper for better bonding. The WRM mat of glass fibre is also cut into the same size. Epoxy LY 556 and Aradur HY951 are the grades of the resin and hardener used in this investigation and their mixture is prepared in the ratio of 10:1. The laminate is formed up by setting alternate layers of aluminium sheet and epoxy resin reinforced glass fibre matrix. The laminate consists of five layers, the first, third and fifth layers are aluminium sheets while second and fourth are glass fibres. The thickness of the laminate fabricated is 5mm. Solid carbide drills used in drilling experiment are of 6mm, 8mm and 10mm in diameter. Drilling is done in a dry condition without coolant and is performed on the SIEMENS CNC vertical machining centre with Kistler type piezoelectric dynamometer setup.

The mechanism of the experiment setup is that the specimen of fabricated laminate is fitted on the fixture of the vertical machining centre, the carbide drill bit is fixed to the spindle and the experiment is performed within the selected range of the input parameters, drilling force signals produced are communicated via fixture to Kistler multichannel amplifier and subsequently collected and saved in a personal computer for additional investigation. Experimental setup showing the machining centre with a fixture, Kistler dynamometer with an amplifier setup and a personal computer is presented in Fig. 1. The specifications of Siemens CNC vertical machining centre are: “table size of machine: 710mm×400mm; speed of the spindle: 60–6000rpm; maximum feed rate: 4200mm/min; traverse (x, y, z): 510mm×410mm×460mm”. Kistler dynamometer which is a multi-component piezo-electric type measures the output responses such as thrust and twisting force generated during a drilling process. Each experiment is repeated twice and the average of it is used for discussion.

Fig. 1.

Experimental setup.


The number of experiment is fixed by using Taguchi's orthogonal array; this method is being used extensively in the experimental investigations that have an objective of obtaining statistics in a precise way. In addition, it also involves numerical analysis of variance, which can be applied in the study of impact of process considerations on the output results. The variables namely, diameter of the drill (d), feed rate (f) and speed of the spindle (N) are considered. The selected input factors and their range in drilling sandwich panels are presented in Table 1. It shows the three levels of value and the experimental results obtained are specified in a Table 2.

Table 1.

Drilling input parameters.

Symbol  Control factors  Level 1  Level 2  Level 3 
D  Drill diameter (mm)  10 
N  Spindle speed (rpm)  1000  2000  3000 
f  Feed rate (mm/min)  100  200  300 
Table 2.

Taguchi L27 orthogonal array and experimental results.

Trial  D  N  f  Thrust force, FZ (N)  Torque, Fy (Nm) 
1000  100  149.4  50.19 
1000  200  393.7  99.1 
1000  300  638.2  150.2 
2000  100  166.18  40.5 
2000  200  300.8  88.3 
2000  300  494.4  140.3 
3000  100  101.5  42.3 
3000  200  214.5  84 
3000  300  358.3  135.2 
10  1000  100  261.5  105.9 
11  1000  200  504.6  147.5 
12  1000  300  720.6  187.5 
13  2000  100  206.8  70.5 
14  2000  200  380.5  102.3 
15  2000  300  620.3  158 
16  3000  100  127.8  47.1 
17  3000  200  258.5  87.1 
18  3000  300  382.5  135.3 
19  10  1000  100  446.5  200.2 
20  10  1000  200  720.5  253.6 
21  10  1000  300  954.5  257.2 
22  10  2000  100  388.5  132.6 
23  10  2000  200  581.5  170.9 
24  10  2000  300  820.3  209.8 
25  10  3000  100  200.6  82.5 
26  10  3000  200  387.5  116.5 
27  10  3000  300  505.8  154.2 
3Results and discussion

The usage of fibre metal sandwich laminates is increased in aircraft and automotive industries and is finding better application in the manufacture of fuselage structures, car body outer coverings, etc. Drilling is commonly used machining process for these sandwich panels for the assembly in the industries and this process cannot be avoided, even though the sandwich panels are manufactured to near-nett shape. The input parameters for drilling conditions affect the surface finish, visual look and an assemblage of the final product. By proper selection of cutting parameters, drilling defects such as surface roughness, delamination, etc. can be reduced.

In the present investigation, drilling experiments are conducted by varying selected cutting parameters in the computer numeric control (CNC) vertical machining centre on the fabricated laminates. The drilling of composite materials is proceeded through the thrust applied during the drilling with the help of twisting force. The minimization of thrust force and torque leads to the better hole and the study on forces is essential for the present day situations. The forces developed during the drilling process are recorded by using the drilling tool dynamometer. The thrust and twisting force generated during the drilling is simultaneously recorded in a personal computer through the Kystler make dynamometer setup, the force signal recorded for sandwich composites is presented in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2.

Thrust force signal obtained in drilling of sandwich panel.


The drilling of sandwich panels is different from the composite materials and metals. The thrust and twisting force evolved in drilling is entirely different. The distinctive thrust force signal perceived for drilling of sandwich panel specifies that the thrust force rises with the advancement of the tool in the workpiece. There are different regions of variation in thrust force is obtained for drilling of sandwich composites.

  • The tool entry indicates the minimum thrust force in drilling, while the drill propagation takes place, the thrust increases proportionately.

  • The first layer has a metal laminate in which the thrust force increases abruptly and it reaches to the maximum.

  • Then it has a contact with the glass fibre laminate in which the thrust reduces abruptly again the thrust increases due to the interface of drill with the metal layer.

  • Normally the maximum thrust force is observed when the metal laminate is in contact whereas the glass fibre tends to reduce it and vice versa.

  • Finally the withdrawal of drill is observed which indicates the minimum level of thrust force.

From the analysis of the above Fig. 2 it has been asserted that the force fluctuates due to the dissimilarity in the material viz. aluminium and glass fibre laminates. From this signal, it is also clearly understood that the induced drilling force is least at the beginning and exit of hole making and also during interference of drill bit with the fibre layer. The signal increases whenever the drill penetrated the metal layer of the sandwich laminate. The maximum thrust force and torque are induced when a tool hits the metal layers. Thrust Force and Torque are measured using varying three different set of machining factors.

A typical drilled hole by a solid carbide drill on the sandwich panel is presented in Fig. 3. The figure shows the arrangement of aluminium layer and glass fibre layer by using a magnified image. In this figure, there is a bonding existing between the glass fibre layer and the aluminium layer and in some region there is a void occurs due to the drilling process. The intersection between the glass fibre layer and the aluminium indicates a different surface in the glass fibre layer and there is a smooth surface is observed at aluminium layer. The figure also indicates the fracture of fibres in the laminate. These can be reduced by applying the proper cutting conditions.

Fig. 3.

Typical hole drilled on sandwich laminate.


In this present investigation, response surface methodology is used for modelling. It is a tool for examining the numerical association among several input and response variables. It uses quantitative data from the experiment to define the solution for multivariate equations; it is used to express how investigation variables influence the output; to resolve the interactions among the investigation variables; to define the collective effect of all variables on the output. Researchers in various fields of study and people in research and development sector in industries applied these methods with significant success. Many researchers in composites have also applied RSM as one of the optimization techniques to improve process parameters involved in the machining of composites. The empirical equations for the response generated during drilling of sandwich laminate made of aluminium and glass fibre are developed by the Design Expert® software. The model developed for predicting the thrust force is given by the following equation:

where D is diameter of the drill in mm, N is speed of spindle in rpm and f is feed rate in mm/min.

Similarly, the model equation for predicting torque is given by the following equation:

The model summary statistics is presented in Table 3. R-squared (R-sq) value for the current model is shown in the table which is very close to the required level. The adjusted R-sq and modified R-sq, shows good agreement. The predicted R-sq is used to verify the model and show precisely the model estimates the response. The adequate precision observed in the model also indicates that the model is having well prediction capability.

Table 3.

Model summary statistics for thrust force and torque.

Source  R-squared  Adjusted R-squared  Pred. R-squared  Adeq. precision 
Thrust force
Linear  0.9317  0.9228  0.9003  26.707 
2FI  0.9773  0.9705  0.9613  44.877 
Quadratic  0.9938  0.9906  0.9832  66.469 
Linear  0.8694  0.8524  0.8106  26.044 
2FI  0.9682  0.9587  0.9451  37.226 
Quadratic  0.9917  0.9874  0.9777  56.281 

The quadratic model for the given input factors and output response is established. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) is provided in Tables 4 and 5. It indicates the calculated ‘F value’ of the model. The calculated values of 304.98 for thrust force and 226.54 for torque indicate that the model is significant. Also from Table 4, it is clear that the factors having the F value with the probability of <0.0001 infers that the factor is important. Values of probability>F of 0.05 specifies that it is significant. D, f, N, D2, DN and Nf are highly effective factors for thrust force and D, f, N, D2, DN are highly effective factors for torque (Prob>F <0.0001). The tables also show the different variables effect on sandwich panels, The actual and predicted thrust force for the selected experimentations is given in Table 6. The table shows that the values of residuals are reasonably lesser and therefore the model predictability is good. The leverage of a point also differs from 0 to 1, shows the amount of each value affects the model fitness.

Table 4.

Results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) for thrust force (quadratic model).

Source  Sum of squares  Degrees of freedom  Mean square  F value  Prob>F 
Model  1.288E+006  1.431E+005  304.98  <0.0001 
D  2.661E+005  2.661E+005  567.03  <0.0001 
N  2.819E+005  2.819E+005  600.55  <0.0001 
f  6.598E+005  6.598E+005  1405.67  <0.0001 
D2  14,882.90  14,882.90  31.71  <0.0001 
N2  6491.39  6491.39  13.83  0.0017 
f2  65.52  65.52  0.14  0.7133 
DN  22,585.36  22,585.36  48.12  <0.0001 
Df  2441.88  2441.88  5.20  00357 
Nf  34,048.05  34,048.05  72.54  <0.0001 
Residual  7979.09  17  469.36     
Cor. total  1.296E+006  26       
Table 5.

Results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) for torque (quadratic model).

Source  Sum of squares  Degrees of freedom  Mean square  F value  Prob>F 
Model  91,998.54  10,222.06  226.54  <0.0001 
D  31,034.54  31,034.54  687.78  <0.0001 
N  17,872.47  17,872.47  396.08  <0.0001 
f  31,744.44  31,744.44  703.51  <0.0001 
D2  1958.31  1958.31  43.40  <0.0001 
N2  220.79  220.79  4.89  0.0409 
f2  0.015  0.015  3.251E−004  0.9858 
DN  8523.20  8523.20  188.89  <0.0001 
Df  628.00  628.00  13.92  0.0017 
Nf  16.78  16.78  0.37  0.5501 
Residual  767.09  17  45.12     
Cor. total  92,765.63  26       
Table 6.

Result of Actual and Predicted responses generated by using the model.

S. no.  Actual  Predicted  Residual  Leverage  Student residual  Random run order 
Thrust force
149.40  154.44  −5.04  0.509  −0.332  19 
638.20  615.34  22.86  0.509  1.506 
166.18  158.84  7.34  0.343  0.418 
494.40  513.21  −18.81  0.343  −1.071  17 
101.50  97.46  4.04  0.509  0.266 
358.30  345.30  13.00  0.509  0.857 
261.50  255.35  6.15  0.343  0.350  14 
50.19  51.08  −0.89  0.509  −0.190  19 
99.10  99.08  0.019  0.343  0.003  16 
10  40.50  38.98  1.52  0.343  0.280 
11  88.30  88.16  0.14  0.259  0.025  21 
12  42.30  39.00  3.30  0.509  0.701 
13  84.00  89.36  −5.36  0.343  −0.984  13 
14  105.9  108.43  −2.53  0.343  −0.464  14 

From this, we can accomplish that the model developed by the response surface methodology is able to present accurate predicted thrust force values in drilling sandwich panels. Also, the normal probability plot is plotted and is provided in Fig. 4(a) and (b). From the plot, we can notice that there is no abnormality formed and hence the model is operative. The graph amongst the actual and predicted values is presented in Fig. 5(a) and (b). It has been noted from Fig. 5 that projected values are nearer to the real values and therefore the empirical equation is real in predicting the thrust force and torque in drilling of sandwich panels made of aluminium and glass fibre.

Fig. 4.

Normal probability plot. (a) Thrust force and (b) torque.

Fig. 5.

Graph between (a) Actual and predicted thrust force and (b) actual and predicted torque.


Aluminium glass fibre reinforced sandwich laminates are used in many aircraft and automobile industries. Joining of these laminates can be mainly carried out by the drilling process. This drilling process of composite sandwich laminates is entirely a different phenomenon than that of metals and normal composites. Since the sandwich laminates consist of combination of metal and fibre layer, the delamination and fibre breakage may occur during the drilling process. This could be overcome only by reducing the thrust force applied over the material while drilling. So the scrutiny of thrust force induced in hole making of such sandwich panels becomes essential and is accepted by response surface methodology. The influence of various drilling variables is analyzed using response graphs obtained by this method.

The single factor plot of diameter, speed and feed verses thrust force are displayed in Fig. 6. It is proven that the induced thrust rises with a larger diameter and higher feed rate, while it falls with increasing spindle speed. The reason for a decrease is that, the increase in speed normally heats the material and thus softens the plastic matrix, which tends to decreases the induced forces. Similarly, the load and contact area on the tool increases when the drill diameter and feed rate is improved; therefore the thrust and torque induced also proportionately increases. Also, the larger diameter of the tool have additional surface contact area, that induce additional load on the tool, therefore thrust force gets increased. From the outcomes, it is apparent that the thrust force and torque generated for sandwich laminate can be minimized by using proper cutting variables and levels. Similarly, the effect of parameters on torque is presented in Fig. 7. The figure perceived that the average values are high with the higher feed and slower spindle speed. The effect also indicates that the value of torque is low while using 6mm drill diameter at 3000rpm spindle speed with 100mm/min feed rate, it is also proved by ANOVA with significant values for the interaction between feed rate and diameter. Figs. 8 and 9 displays the three dimensional plots between the variables that influence responses for sandwich laminates using solid carbide drill bits. The surface plots help the observer to easily envision the surface of the response. The surface plot graphs also indicate how a output response recounts to interactive factors.

Fig. 6.

Effect of parameters. (a) Diameter on thrust force, (b) spindle speed on thrust force and (c) feed on thrust force.

Fig. 7.

Effect of parameters. (a) Diameter on torque, (b) spindle speed on torque and (c) feed on torque.

Fig. 8.

3D surface graph for thrust force. (a) Spindle speed versus diameter for thrust force, (b) feed versus diameter for thrust force and (c) feed rate versus spindle speed for thrust force.

Fig. 9.

3D surface graph for torque. (a) Spindle speed versus diameter for torque, (b) feed versus diameter for torque and (c) feed rate versus spindle speed for torque.


Scanning electron microscopy of pierced surface is shown in Fig. 10, the rough surface image of the hole is clearly visible in Fig. 10(a), it displays the scattering of the particles in the matrix materials, fibres which are uncut during drilling operation, the broken resin particles are also spread over the surface wrecks the surface finish of the hole produced, higher the spindle speed, finer the surface finish, this is due to the reason that at higher speed the thrust induced is less. This figure also indicates the arrangement of fibres and aluminium plate in the sandwich composite laminate. Fig. 10(b) shows traces of the initiation of delamination of layers, but the surface finish of the hole produced at low feed is comparatively better compared with a surface produced at high feed. The figure indicates the presence of fibres and aluminium layers clearly. The fibre distribution is not uniform, there is some void also observed in the drilled hole. This may be due to the bonding effect that takes place during the fabrication process. The aluminium portion finds smooth surface. Fig. 10(c) presents the hole surface of the drilled sandwich laminate with a low feed rate and spindle speed, in which the fibre distribution and aluminium plate surfaces have been seen. Here also there is a rough surface followed due to the fibre shearing during the cutting process. Fig. 10(d) shows the surface produced at high feed and spindle speed. The high speed and feed produce intermediate surface due to the nature of the cutting condition. The surface finish, thrust force and torque can be minimized by adopting the proper cutting condition.

Fig. 10.

Scanning electron microscopy of drilled portion of sandwich panel. [a] Surface produced at high feed and low speed, [b] surface produced at low feed and high speed, [c] surface produced at low feed and speed and [d] surface produced at high feed high speed.


Woven glass fibre reinforced aluminium sandwich composite laminate is fabricated and the drilling experiments are conducted using Solid Carbide drill based on the design of L27 orthogonal array to foresee the effect of input factors on thrust force and torque. The conclusions arrived based on the experiment results obtained during the drilling of sandwich laminate are:

  • Response surface methodology (RSM) technique is employed to form the empirical model for predicting the performances and also utilized towards the analyses on the effects of process parameters.

  • All the drilling variables have significant impact over thrust force induced in hole making process of sandwich panels. The interaction among the drill diameter and feed rate is more significant parameters which affect the thrust in drilling.

  • The optimal value of 6mm drill diameter with 100mm/min feed and 3000rpm of rotation reduces the thrust force for drilling woven glass fibre reinforced aluminium sandwich panels with solid carbide tool.

  • The rotational speed lowers the force induced for hole making of woven glass fibre reinforced aluminium sandwich panels; however the rise in feed maximizes the thrust force.

  • From three dimensional surface plots, it is established that highly inducing factors which affect the drilling are feed and diameter of the drill, whereas the spindle speed has not exposed any tremendous effect.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Journal of Materials Research and Technology

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