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

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Elaborate machines for mini-manufacturing

Working within spaces no more than a millimetre in dimension requires miniature machines with advanced capabilities. A successful example of this new generation of machinery is an innovative metal forming tool system.

Industrial Technologies

For micro and nano applications a number of processes have been developed for the manufacture of micro-machines. The region between macroscopic and microscopic is currently under intensive research. Tools capable of operating when thicknesses are microns and lengths are milimetres are being developed by the MACHMINI project. Machines with these properties have a number of possible applications in diverse areas like the medical or aerospace industries. The currently developed Piezo impact microforming (PIM) tool system is is an incremental metal forming tool system. Indentations on the surfaces of bulk parts can now be made accurately, with much less effort and required expertise. The metal forming tool operates in frequencies between 5 to 50 Hertz and resembles a semi-static system. It vibrates with the aid of an Amplified Stacked Ceramic Multi-layer Actuator (ASCMA). The actuator is placed at the head of the forming machine. A specially designed generator is used for supplying power to the actuator. Vibrations of the ASCMA actuator drive the forming tool. Under different operating conditions of the actuator the forming tool can work equally well as a displacement tool. The maximum amplitude of the actuator's vibrations is half a millimetre. A force of approximately 400 Newtons is required to block the actuator. Under actual working conditions when the forming tool is operating with a specific loaded force, the working stroke is smaller than the corresponding free stroke. The prototype system has been thoroughly checked and is available for demonstration. Marketing agreements are currently sought for the Piezo impact microforming (PIM) tool system.

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