Partnering opportunity

Ring lights for high-precision manufacturing. German research institute seeks commercial partners for its technology.

Summary

A German research institute developed a method for tool adjustment operating at nanometre level. Through pinpointed heating from ring lights cutting blades can be adjusted during use. The technology is for high-precision milling or micro-turning. Several cutting blades in one tool holder can be tuned by precisely positioning the tool inserts. The fine tuning is done contact-free during the rotation. Manufacturers of ultra-precision tools are sought for cooperation or licensing.

Partner sought

Partner types sought are from industry, cooperation for further development of the invention and for production of the invention. The client is looking for a partner to develop this technology further. The possible partner should have experiences with ultra-precision tools, possibly a company that can assist to the precise control of the LED lights. Furthermore, a producer of LEDs for the production of the ring-light would be of interest. The main focus is on manufacturers of precision tools that would like to use this technology. The production of a special tool holder and the integration of the ring-lights would be necessary.

Description

The fine adjustment of tools presents a great challenge in precision manufacturing, e.g. ultra-precision milling. Deviations in the nanometre range already cause considerable quality losses, thus only single-flute tools are usually applied for so-called “fly-cutting”. The invention enables the contact-free adjustment of a radial tool position in the nanometre range during a milling operation. This is accomplished by contactless pinpointed heating which produces a localized expansion of the tool holder. Therefore, two ring lights equipped with infrared light-emitting diodes (IR-LED) heat up the front and back of the rotating tool holder exactly where the expansion is desired. Control electronics recognize the exact position and the velocity of the target surface and activate precisely those IR-LED in the ring light which overlaps with the target surface. Therefore, the rotating target surface is almost continuously exposed to IR radiation. The intensity of the IR-LED is tunable by means of a power circuit. It has already been demonstrated that a maximum expansion of approx. 1 μm can be reached even with spindle speeds as high as 240 min-1. Trials with higher spindle speeds are currently in progress.

Advantages and innovations

Several cutting blades in one tool holder can be tuned to each other by precisely positioning the tool inserts. The fine adjustment is done during rotation. The ring light enables a contact-free and targeted heat application, which minimizes interferences, e.g. caused by slip rings. The mass and volume of the rotating components remains very low, as the ring lights are mounted rigidly to the machine, which is advantageous with regard to the dynamic behavior of the tool holder. The power circuit and the control of the IR-LED are separated from each other, i.e. that even strong IR-LED currents can be controlled by a commercially available microcontroller. The control permits using several tools simultaneously. The LED ring lights can also be integrated into existing machine tools, as can the tool holder developed for this purpose.

Development stage

Prototype available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted


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