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New generation of machinery for manufacture of miniature (1mm) engineering components (machmini)

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Mini-machines for micro-manufacturing

Miniature mechanical components with micron to millimetre dimensions are used in the transducer, medical, aerospace industries, to name only a few. Tools and machinery to micro-deform miniature materials have been developed.

Industrial Technologies

A number of mechanical parts inside our high tech refrigerator are assembled from miniature components. From consumer white goods to aerospace industry, such miniature engineering materials are highly required. With component thicknesses of the order of 20 microns and an overall bulk size of the order of a millimetre most of conventional deformation processes may result in serious and irreversible defects. Novel tools and machinery are required. To satisfy this demand has been the objective of the MACHMINI project. Firstly the plastic deformation characteristics of the miniature materials need to be defined. These characteristics have been utilised in pre-processing for developing an exact finite element software model. The computer model has substantially aided in product design, analysis, and development. Subsequently the MACHMINI machine, a new generation of forming machine, was constructed. The machine is a 3-axis Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine capable of delivering the tool-system to pre-specified locations. It carries an L-shaped frame, on which a variety of tools and dividing heads can be mounted. The geometry facilitates component manipulation on both the x- and y- plane. Standard numerical control codes like G-code may be used to program the MACHMINI machine. A key innovation in the design of the MACHMINI machine is the incorporation of a Z1-signal that allows the supply of conditioned signals to the tool-system. The constructed three dimensional capability reveals the potential of forming of complex component geometries. A prototype MACHMINI machine is available for testing while other samples have already been delivered to major industries for extensive performance trials.

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