New Era UK Machine Tool Offers Automated Ultra-precision Machining Capabilities

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Loxham Precision’s µ6 machine product is a departure from incremental developments of the traditionally conservative machine tool sector. It is a 6 axes nanometre resolution ultra-precision machine offering diamond turning and micro-milling processes at leading accuracy levels. The µ6 machine is of low mass with super low energy consumption design that provides an unprecedented automated ultra-precision machining capability. Perhaps most striking of all is its overall size: that of a domestic white goods product. As Loxham’s Director Paul Shore says “it is a new era machine tool".

µ6 machining accuracy capability and capacity

µ6 is small, highly economical to run, easy to house and transport, it is nonetheless a fully capable micro-milling and diamond turning production system. µ6 offers true ultra-precision machining qualities.

Typically, conventional diamond turning machines accuracy performance is proven by cutting spherical surfaces to high accuracy levels in terms of their surface roughness and form accuracy. The µ6 machine is capable of producing roughness levels below 5 nm Ra and on high quality materials a good deal better than that. Form accuracy achievement from the µ6 is equally impressive at 25 – 30 nm RMS (~1 µinch).

µ6 is a fully functional 6 axes CNC machine tool capable of turn – mill processes combining turning milling and drilling. By using its novel multi axes machining modes with automated tool changing, optical tool setting and post process metrology high complexity geometric components can be produced at unprecedented levels of accuracy.

Although µ6 is small its volumetric workpiece capacity is an impressive 125 mm diameter by 100mm, considered not too bad for a machine of 600mm by 600mm by 1200mm.

µ6 automation and built-in intelligence

Automated the µ6 machine has been achieved using a gantry load/unload machine that employ linear motors and force feedback. This robotic loading system, is complemented by some built-in intelligence into the µ6 control system. This built in intelligence enables the machine to identify the exact position the component has been placed on the workpiece holding fixture, and if necessary it is able to gently reposition the component to a location accuracy of 0.001mm.

µ6 applications and outlook

µ6 offers manufacturers of optics, sensors, integrated devices, print heads, medical devices, etc. a comprehensive precision fabrication capability within a single small scale machine tool. The cost of ownership is significantly lower than conventional machines and Loxham Precision believes its eased automation will in the future bring about new application areas including those of finishing additively fabrication components of complex shape requiring limited material removal levels.

Just now the µ6 machine has been sold into some UK research centres. The Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton has recently invested in a µ6 machine tool as part of their work within the UK’s Quantum Technology and Sensors programme.

For further details please contact Loxham Precision via: