Big boost for small parts

Amorphology, a NASA spin-off company, specialises in the application of advanced materials and manufacturing technologies for the improvement of non-lubricated micro-gears for robotics and other industrial applications. These materials have advanced features over steel, titanium and aluminium, for example.

Amorphous metals are a non-crystalline class of alloy that cut and chip differently than other materials and, in the company’s quest to source a machine that could produce the micro-gears, it conducted machining tests with several machine suppliers – including Starrag – to assess the precision, cycle times and overall capabilities of the machines as they cut a relatively unknown alloy.

“We were focused on finding the best machine to meet our rapid prototyping, mould insert cutting and post-processing needs,” says Amorphology’s COO Jason Riley. “The Starrag Bumotec s191H turn-mill centre outperformed all contenders.”

After receiving CAD files of the prototype micro-gears and undertaking tests using a Starrag-developed cutting tool at the machine tool builder’s sites in Switzerland and the USA, several batches of samples were produced. Amorphology was impressed with the results and, in discussions with Starrag about how both companies could co-operate to grow their respective businesses, it was agreed that Amorphology would showcase the Bumotec in its Pasadena (California) site for the customers of both companies to view.

Amorphology is set to make a wide variety of parts on the machine, from mould inserts to prototype gears, as well as other production bulk metallic glasses and traditional metal parts.

“We are targeting high-precision parts with tolerances of often around ±5 µm on certain dimensions,” says Riley. “Most of our work is focused on rapid prototyping and batch production quantities in the region of hundreds of parts per month.”
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