Mechanical micro machining is an emerging technology with many potential benefits and equally great challenges. The push to develop processes and tools capable of micro scale fabrication is a result of the widespread drive to reduce part and feature size. One important factor that contributes to the ability to machine at the microscale level is the overall size of the machine tool due to the effects of thermal, static, and dynamic stabilities. This paper explores the technical feasibility of miniaturized machine tools capable of fabricating features and parts on the micro scale in terms of depth of cut and part form accuracy. It develops a machine tool and examines its capabilities through benchmarking tests and the making of precision dies for the injection molding of microcantilever parts. The design and configuration of a miniaturized vertical machining center of overall dimension less than 300 mm on a side is presented and the component specifications discussed. The six axis machine has linear positioning resolution of 4 nm by 10 nm by 10 nm, with accuracy on the order of 0.3 μm, in the height, feed, and cross feed directions. The work volume as defined by the ranges of axes travel are 4 mm by 25 mm by 25 mm in the height, feed, and cross feed and 20 degrees in the rotational space. To quantify the performance capability of the miniaturized machine tool as a system, a series of evaluation tests were implemented based on linear and arch trajectories over a range of feed speed and depth of cut conditions. Test results suggest that micro level form accuracy and sub-micron level finish are generally achievable for parts with moderate curvature and gradient in the geometry under selected machining parameters and conditions. An injection mold was made of steel with this machine and plastic microcantilevers fabricated. Plastic microcantilevers are appropriate for sensing applications such as surface probe microscopy. The microcantilevers, made from polystyrene, were 464 to 755 μm long, 130 μm wide and only 6–9 μm thick. They showed very good uniformity, reproducibility, and appropriate mechanical response for use as sensors in surface force microscopy.
- Manufacturing Engineering Division and Materials Handling Division
Manufacture of Microcantilever Sensors
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McFarland, AW, Colton, JS, Cox, D, & Liang, SY. "Manufacture of Microcantilever Sensors." Proceedings of the ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Manufacturing Engineering and Materials Handling, Parts A and B. Orlando, Florida, USA. November 5–11, 2005. pp. 965-969. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2005-81379
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