Starrag and Amorphology open lab for machining aerospace parts

Published
April 19,2021 - 06:30am
Starrag and Amorphology open lab for machining aerospace parts

A manufacturer of CNC metalworking machinery and a developer of advanced amorphous metals established a laboratory where customers of both companies can observe real-time precision engineering and machining of complex gears using amorphous metals.

The Starrag Group’ Bumotec’s s191H CNC machine will be housed at the laboratory in Amorphology’s Pasadena, California, headquarters. The flexible, high-production CNC will machine a variety of parts, from mold inserts to rapid prototype gears and machine the company’s amorphous materials as well as traditional metal parts.

Amorphology, a NASA spinoff company founded from technology developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology, is a leader in applying advanced materials and manufacturing technologies toward improving gear production for robotics and other industrial applications using amorphous metals, also known as bulk metal glass (BMG).

“We are targeting high-precision parts with tolerances often <5μm on certain dimensions,” said Jason Riley, Amorphology’s chief operating officer. “The majority of our work is focused on rapid prototyping and production quantities in the hundreds of parts per month.”

“Establishing a laboratory environment to showcase the precision, quality and capabilities of the Bumotec s191H will enable aerospace and defense engineers to experience this real-time machining that could be used in their manufacturing operations,” said Greg Dunkley, Starrag Bumotec vice president of precision engineering,

Advanced Features of Amorphous Metals

Riley said that BMGs have several material advantages over traditional steel, titanium and aluminum metals and alloys. Amorphology’s patent  portfolio includes several patents focused on high-precision gears for space and other extreme cold temperature applications. Amorphous metals are a non-crystalline class of alloys that cut and chip differently than other materials.

“The Bumotec s191H provides mill-turn capabilities as well as a higher production capacity,” said Riley. “Bumotec can take our alloys and machine single pieces. Or instead of machining one part at a time, it can produce hundreds of pieces lights out.”

Besides making gears for aerospace, Amorphology’s gears are made for use in cobots, robots and medical devices. For example, most cobots use strainwave gears and the main component of that part is a flexspline. It is complex, thin-walled and precisely moves the arm of the robot.

Many of the cobot, robot and medical device parts can be cast or injected molded, but at times the micro-parts need to be post-processed to extremely high tolerances. “Bumotec ‘cut its teeth’ in designing machines for the Swiss watch industry,” said Dunkley. “Bumotec has a talent for machining micro-size high- value gears.”

The Bumotec s191H blends Swiss mechanics and state-of-the-art axis drive technologies. The cast iron three-point machine base and linear drives eliminate vibration that yields superior surface finishes. Advanced kinematics and thermal management allow the implementation of numerous high speed machining operations in a small footprint.

Riley believes the Bumotec s191H will make Amorphology’s own micro gearboxes without lubrication in robots and medical devices. “We will be machining our patented alloys to very small sizes where production quantities don’t require our injection molding process,” he said.

For a demonstration of the technology, email Stephen Ceplenski at stephen@amorphology.com or Greg Dunkley at Greg.Dunkley@starrag.com. For information on Amorphology, phone 213-377-5440, x5. For information on Starrag, phone 859-534-5201.

Related Glossary Terms

  • alloys

    alloys

    Substances having metallic properties and being composed of two or more chemical elements of which at least one is a metal.

  • amorphous

    amorphous

    Not having a crystal structure; noncrystalline.

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • metalworking

    metalworking

    Any manufacturing process in which metal is processed or machined such that the workpiece is given a new shape. Broadly defined, the term includes processes such as design and layout, heat-treating, material handling and inspection.

  • robotics

    robotics

    Discipline involving self-actuating and self-operating devices. Robots frequently imitate human capabilities, including the ability to manipulate physical objects while evaluating and reacting appropriately to various stimuli. See industrial robot; robot.