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JUL/AUG 2013  

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Part-Handling/ Workholding

Top Features

Marking microparts with lasers

With the increasing need for traceability, marking operations have become essential at all levels of manufacturing. There are many ways to permanently mark parts, each with advantages and limitations, depending on the application.

In the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, doctors put a new spin on the term “house call.” Using microminiaturization technology, scientists shrink a team of surgeons to the size of the flu virus, then send the group on a mission to destroy a blood clot deep inside the brain of a Russian defector. (There’s no spoiler—you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself.)

Here’s a riddle: Without touching them, how do you pick up small, delicate parts, such as those with ultrafine finishes or tiny, electronic components sensitive to electrostatic discharge? Answer: With vacuum tweezers.

Stable workholding is key to grinding microparts

Many have the false impression that grinding is a “black art,” and that achieving accurate dimensional results requires a level of expertise that is hard to come by. Advances in technology have opened the door to greater precision and allowed finer features when cylindrical grinding micro parts and cutting tools.

Shop takes ‘systems’ approach to holding microparts

Accurately machining and measuring a part requires it to be located and clamped with precision that matches or exceeds specified final tolerances. Generally, a shop can combine good machine tools, vises and tooling to get a good result. But when working with micron-level tolerances, good is not good enough. Beyond assembling high-accuracy workholding components, it is crucial to control how they relate to each other as an integrated system, and assure they are applied in a repeatable, systematic manner.

New part-handling tools, techniques power microassembly

For the task of assembling small products, manufacturers must find a suitable tool for handling components measured in millimeters and, sometimes, microns. In many cases, the choice is a diminutive gripper that grasps parts with little fingers. A number of different grippers are available for microassembly processes.

Top Videos

During the 7th International Conference on MicroManufacturing in March, conference co-chairs Jian Cao and Kornel Ehmann, along with a few of their students, provided an overview of their research and work stations at the university's micromanufacturing lab.

Stephen Malone, applications engineer at Aerotech Inc., provided a brief overview of the company's micro positioning stages during the ICOMM 2012 gathering held in March at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Dec. 10, 2010—In this 3-minute video, ALBA Enterprises Inc., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., addresses a common problem among micro-injection molders—separating the runners from the good parts—as it demonstrates its sprue separator in action with a Babyplast Micro-Injection Molding Machine.

Oct. 12, 2010—Dr. Joseph A. Profeta III, director of product marketing for automation control systems at Aerotech Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., discussed "Advanced Control Techniques for Minimizing Motion Errors and Nanomotion Technology" as part of the Fast Track Seminars presented at the Cutting Tool Engineering and MICROmanufacturing booth during IMTS 2010.

June 18, 2010—Virtual Industries Inc.offers vacuum tweezers that can pick up parts from 100µm to a few millimeters.

Top Products

PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P.

H-820PI (Physik Instrumente) added a lower-cost hexapod to its large family of parallel positioning devices.  Hexapods produce motion in all 6 degrees of freedom—in the X-axis, Y-axis and Z-axis as well as pitch, yaw and roll.  With a freely programmable center of rotation these devices are virtually as versatile as the human hand.

PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P.

Among those likely glued to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Web site to follow the progress of NASA's Curiousity Mars rover are the employees at miCos GmbH, Eschbach, Germany, and PI (Physik Instrumente) LP, Auburn, Mass., who had a hand in constructing a portion of the onboard laboratory.

Aerotech Inc.

Aerotech catalogA catalog from Aerotech Inc. on motion and automation for test, measurement and inspection covers the company’s motion capabilities in applications such as sensor testing, surface profiling, nondestructive testing, and semiconductor inspection and metrology.

A high-quality collet is key to precision machining of small parts using Swiss-type (sliding headstock) machines. Swiss-style collets from Hardinge Inc., Elmira, N.Y., are said to be burr-free, are finish ground to provide a smooth and concentric gripping area for bar stock or workpieces and have runout of 0.000015” TIR.

Multidec 1600 series thin grooving and micro turning tools can be used on parts less than 0.125" in diameter utilizing insert widths ranging from the thickness of a human hair (0.0019") up to 0.108", according to developer Genevieve Swiss Industries, Westfield, Mass.