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Rainford present Micro Machining at AMRC
Rainford present Micro Machining at AMRC
Rainford present Micro Machining at AMRC
Rainford present Micro Machining at AMRC

Rainford present Micro Machining at AMRC

Added to MTDCNC by Rainford Precision on 26 September 2015

As the UK's authority on 'micro' machining, Arthur Turner from Rainford Precision recently conducted a seminar at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield. MTD went along to the AMRC event where Arthur discussed four critical factors in micro machining.

Eluding to the four key factors for an ideal micro machining environment, Rainford Precision's Mr Arthur Turner tells us: 'The first factor is management; and this means controlling influences. Do the management team actually know how they are going to achieve their goals and are they giving the operator the facility to achieve those goals. And are the goals being set truly realistic with the equipment at hand.'

'The second factor is the environment. Not having sunlight on the machine, the machine being near external doors and even monitoring vibration within the general machine shop environment, are all factors. At the end of the day, when we're trying to achieve micron precision, all these issues can add up to some pretty significant changes that will influence what you can achieve.'

'The third factor is the 'process' and this incorporates a whole raft of factors that start with your CAD/CAM and whether it is capable of achieving the desired precision. You move from the CAD/CAM to the CMM and whether your CMM is genuinely up to measuring micron precision. Another factor is the cutting tools and how they are being held, i.e is it heat shrink, collet chuck or zero fit chucks. Furthermore, are these toolholding methods running concentrically and being measured accordingly. Another factor is the coolant or air blast. If a machine is using flood coolant, is the coolant temperature controlled, as this also impacts on workpiece stability. An additional key factor is workpiece clamping, is the part being clamped securely enough to obtain the finish you are looking for. A deviation in any of these process factors can impact the potential to obtain true micron precision. So, for anyone aiming for the pinnacle of precision, these process factors have to be considered.'

The fourth and final factor is the machine tool. At the AMRC, a demonstration part was being machined on a Kern machining centre, which was hitting 1 micron precision levels. So, to discuss the machine tool as the final factor, Mr Turner says: 'A key factor is the stability of the machine. On the Kern machine, there is a polymer granite bed that is thermally stable and dampens vibration. A number of other machine tool vendors also use this base material, but you will also find that those companies also have very accurate machines. So, that's the foundation. Another key issue is having a spindle that runs concentrically to within one micron. That is more difficult to obtain and that is where many machine tool vendors lose their tolerances.'

Eluding to the demonstration part that highlights the remarkable precision capabilities of the Kern, Matthew Young, an AMRC technician told us more. 'The spindle is running at 25,000rpm and warming up prior to doing a demonstration part. The demonstration part is cutting 2 micron steps on one face with a 5 micron step through the centre of the part. The thinking behind this test is that we will have a 3 micron, one micron and then a completely flat surface where the steps meet.' But let's not be fooled into thinking that the everyday VMC can achieve this level of precision. The Kern range of machining centres are renowned for being world leaders in machine tool precision.

Concluding on the Micro industry and its growth, Mr Turner says: 

'The potential for micro machining and precision machines such as the Kern is growing, as more and more end users are looking for tighter tolerances, better surface finishes and smaller features. Over the next 5 years there will be considerable growth. The existing Kern customer base varies from mould tool makers, watch makers, space science, aerospace, medical and electronics markets. The AMRC has primarily focused on the aerospace and automotive sectors, but one of its next focus points is the production of small parts.'

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