The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (www.mel.nist.gov) has produced micro-scale parts on a new, high-speed micro milling machine. The laboratory said it believes the parts are the first micro-scale parts to be machined. Construction of the milling machine and two others are part of a project to create new micro-machine tools and to research and develop metrology methods and standards for them.
The machines could be used to produce parts for medical devices, the defense industry and telecommunications.
The goal of the research project is to produce parts that fit in a work volume of about 1-inch square (25 mm by 25 mm by 25 mm) with features in dimensions as small as one micron. The MesoMill is a threeaxis machine. In its twoaxis stage, it incorporates a two-dimensional grid encoder with 0.01-micron resolution for the X and Y axes.
Researcher Brad Damazo says methods and standards used for larger machine tools do not adapt to micromachines. Some measuring devices, such as laser optics for measuring angular errors and grid plates, do not fit machine tool work volumes.
This three-axis, high-speed micro-milling machine built at the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory successfully machined micro-scale parts measuring about 1 in. by 0.195 in. (25 mm by 5 mm). The machine is part of a research project to build micro-machines and develop metrology methods and standards.
This feature was milled in cast iron by a micro-scale machine at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory. The wall is 0.0197-in. (0.5 mm) high with a 0.003937-in. (100 micron) thickness.