Microfluidic devices with micron-scale resolutions

24 10 2014

Micron-scale resolution – with today’s laser technology, resists for microcomponents can be produced cheaply and quickly. With a new compact laser system, individual trays are exposed directly.

Compact and powerful: The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI exposes resists with structures down to the micron range.

Compact and powerful: The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI exposes resists with structures down to the micron range.

LPKF, in cooperation with the Slovenian company Aresis and the University of Ljubljana, is developing new low-cost, fast processes for structuring of microcomponents. Maskless UV laser direct imaging (LDI) of photosensitive polymers (photoresists) offers numerous advantages over classic mask projection techniques.

Research and development in the field of microfluidic devices and micromechanical systems benefit from fast prototyping processes such as LPKF-LDI. Lab-on-a-chip devices help miniaturize processes and reduce liquid sample sizes as well as waste. This opens up tremendous possibilities for the LDI process in medicine, biology, chemistry, and physics. The applications are diverse – blood and cell analysis, medical diagnosis and screening, sensors (chemical, biological, environmental, and weapons technology; automotive engineering), synthesis of chemicals, and physical experiments.

Manufacturing microfluidic components
Three processes are mainly used to manufacture microfluidic devices on the scale of tens of nanometers to more than a hundred micrometers. The currently prevailing method of photolithography is primarily recommended for large-scale production. For frequent layout changes or low production quantities, though, the process is much too elaborate. In the electron beam method, the structures are written directly onto a resist. The electron beam has resolutions of between 20 and 50 nm. However, special resists, conductive substrates, a high vacuum, and an extraordinarily large amount of time are required for this process. With Laser Direct Imaging (LDI), a scanner-guided laser beam writes structures directly, rapidly, and precisely onto the photoresist without using a mask. This results in extremely smooth side wall edges.

LDI: fast, flexible, and precise
The LPKF ProtoLaser LDI can be used for production of microfluidic devices as well as MEMS, BioMEMS, integrated optics, and photonic experiments with microscale structures. In terms of precision, LDI surpasses all comparable systems for mask projection. Investment costs are considerably lower than for electron beam lithography and for numerous mask alignment systems. LDI even enables structuring of elements with web widths of less than a micron.
However, there are many more features: substrate exposure with a focused 375-nm TEM00 UV laser beam, which can also be used for standard UV resists; software-controllable laser focus (1 – 3 µm) for changing precision requirements; and an integrated camera for fine positioning of substrate and automated self-calibration as well as stitching mechanisms for real-time manufacturing of large samples.
The launch of the ProtoLaser LDI product will coincide with the presentation at MicroTAS in San Antonio, USA, from October 26 to October 30.

Various cylinders machined out of SU-8. Maximum precision at an extremely high aspect ratio.

Various cylinders machined out of SU-8. Maximum precision at an extremely high aspect ratio.

Laser & Electronics AG
Osteriede 7
D-30827 Garbsen

Proto Labs, Inc. launches new additive manufacturing service

23 10 2014

Proto Labs, Inc., a leading online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer, has announced the launch of its additive manufacturing service through the acquisition of privately held FineLine Prototyping, Inc. a leading provider of additive manufacturing services.
Proto Labs
The addition of additive manufacturing expands Proto Labs services to address a wider spectrum of need for the product developer. From concept models, to form and fit testing, to functional testing and short-run production, no other company can supply a broader range of quick-turn custom parts with the speed, reliability and consistency of Proto Labs.

A new trump in the game
The addition of an additive manufacturing service is highly complementary to Proto Labs’ existing CNC machining and injection molding services. Historically, 70% of Proto Labs customers also utilize an additive manufacturing service in their product development process. Proto Labs will announce its new additive manufacturing service to its substantial database of over 300,000 product developers to leverage the inherent synergy this new service provides.  “We are excited to launch our new additive manufacturing service,” said Vicki Holt, Proto Labs President and CEO. “The FineLine acquisition is the first step in building this new service. We will look to expand our additive manufacturing capabilities in the US, as well as globally, through both organic growth and potential new acquisitions. Our customers have been asking us to provide additive manufacturing services for quite some time, and now we can address that need. We’re accepting orders starting today.”

A new name : fineline
Fineline Additive Manufacturing specializes in the rapid prototyping of three-dimensional objects. Within Fineline, Proto Labs offer three high-tech processes: stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Whether small parts with precise geometries or large, highly detailed patterns are needed, these  additive processes provide product developers another quick-turn option during early prototyping.

Will this evolution follow in Europe ?  Stay tuned!

Proto Labs
Bernard Faure – Savoie Technolac
18 Allée du Lac Saint André
F 73382 le Bourget du Lac Cedex
Tel + 33 (0) 479 65 46 50 – Fax + 33 (0) 479 65 46 51

In the United Kingdom: richard.Vaughan@protolabs.co.UK
Firstcut – cnc machining: www.firstcut.eu
Protomold – injection: www.Protomold.fr  


…brought to you by Eurotec-Online.com


Tornos celebrates sales success at UK open house

22 10 2014

The recent THINK: Production 2014 event that was co-hosted by Tornos and Matsuura proved a resounding success for the Swiss sliding head lathe manufacturer.

Left Hullmatic MD Peter Pledger and John McBride From Tornos in Front of ST26.

Hullmatic MD Peter Pledger and John McBride From Tornos in Front of ST26.

The three day event in Coalville, drew over 200 high calibre visitors with one of the Tornos highlights being the sale of an ST26 turning centre to Hullmatic.

Balancing operations
The acquisition of the Tornos ST26 comes off the back of a successful ST26 installation in September. The first ST26 was installed at Hullmatic as a direct replacement for an ageing Deco 20 machine. Capable of balanced turning, milling and drilling, the ST26 can also provide material savings with its ability to run with/without a guide bush.

Tailored solution
The order for a second ST26 is the result of Tornos expediting the process with a solution that was tailored to the needs of the end user. With a shop full of CNC sliding head technology from Tornos and CNC lathes from Mazak, Hullmatic is deeply imbued in the production of automotive components, boasting household names like Caterpillar, Dunlop, Perkins and Delphi as customers. Producing over 15 million parts each year, Essex based Hullmatic had been utilising their Tornos Deco machine for long production runs. However, the ability of the ST26 to maintain these long production runs whilst offering improved flexibility and reduced changeover times when compared to the ageing Deco was overwhelming. The immediate impact of the ST26 is why the company brought forward its plans for a second machine.

Constant stream of innovation
Whilst this acquisition was a highlight for Tornos, the event visitors were also drawn by the new CT20 and GT26 turning centres that arrived fresh from their world premiere at AMB. Tornos also gave its UK debut to the SwissNano turning centre that has been causing a stir in the micro manufacturing industry. Alongside these new innovations was the robust and powerful Almac CU3007 machining centre with a 5-axis Lehmann table set up. The new machines boasted a host of new technology and the extremely powerful 11kw spindles of the GT26 drew interest, but a clear crowd pleaser was the Tornos TISIS machine monitoring software. Linked to the CT20 and GT26 turning centres at the event, TISIS enabled the visitors to see the benefits of monitoring and programming one or many machines and their production status from one work terminal or mobile device.

Tornos Open House in Coalville.

Tornos Open House in Coalville.


EuroMold presents the concept for the 2014 edition

21 10 2014

EuroMold, the specialist trade fair for moldmaking and tooling, design and application development, will take place from 25 – 28 November 2014 in exhibition halls 8, 9 and 11 in Frankfurt am Main.
This year the trade fair is again expecting more than 1,000 exhibitors, along with an increase in international representation, with around 40 countries represented. Traditionally, the majority of the companies are moldmakers and tool manufacturers. Furthermore, there is already a high level of return bookings by former exhibitors, as well as new bookings from first-time exhibitors. The number of first-time exhibitors, currently standing at 88 exhibitors from 19 different countries, emphasises the high international quality of EuroMold 2014.

New synergies
In 2014, EuroMold will have a new hall structure, which will also spatially reflect the synergies between the fields of moldmaking & tool production and additive manufacturing in Hall 8.0. It is here that the “Stark im Formenbau mit Generativer Fertigung” (Strength in moldmaking with additive manufacturing) theme park will take place, at which various machine manufacturers and tool producers will demonstrate the possibilities offered by additive manufacturing for the more efficient manufacture of tools, with the help of practical examples. The connection between “lightweight construction and moldmaking” will be demonstrated in detail in a special exhibition. The CAE Forum, which deals with computer-aided engineering, considerably enhances the area of design and engineering. This is an ideal presentation platform, in particular for the increasing number of engineering service provider exhibitors.

A rich programme
This year the range of information will be extended to include new special exhibitions, conferences, workshops, seminars and forums. For example, one innovation will be the EuroMold 3D-School, which will demonstrate the possibilities of 3D printing to students. With the support of a printer manufacturer, a classroom will be installed in the trade fair hall in which students will receive classes.




…brought to you by Eurotec-Online.com

Very positive dynamics

20 10 2014

Today Dixi Polytool opens its premises in le Locle. After several months of work and important investments, the company presents itself under a new image.

With the consolidation of the R &D and Applications departments, new developments are closer to the needs of the markets and new products are immediately tested within this cell.

With the consolidation of the R&D and Applications departments, new developments are closer to the needs of the markets and new products are immediately tested within this cell.

In the spring of 2012, the company approached the architect’s office to redesign its 7’000 m2 of surface. The goals? Improve the thermal values of the building, improve working conditions and also act positively on the company’s image as well as prepare the implementation of Lean Manufacturing. All self-financed!

A pleasing trend
For several years, Dixi Polytool is in the steam of a very positive dynamics and its evolution is not limited to its building, the investment rate in state-of-the-art production means is considerable at more than 10% of the turnover per year. Dixi is clearly becoming a major player in the field of cutting tools for both small and precise.
Many new products in 2014
Specialized in the realization of micro tools in solid carbide and diamond, shaped tools and precision reamers as well as special tools on request, it is more than 11’000 references that Dixi offers to its customers. And it innovates constantly. Mr. Schuler, CEO, explains: “We have the chance to be at the heart of the market and in direct contact daily with our customers, this enables us to continually find new solutions”. So as to fully stick to the demands of the market, Customers Applications and R&D departments have been merged in 2013. Dynamics and customer orientation have been extensively developed. In this respect the Director concludes: “In micromachining (up to 20 mm in standard) we have the image of a provider ready for challenges and going further”. Customers looking for effective and reliable solutions are well aware of this.

Don’t miss our next issue for the full interview of M. Schuler.

Looking for a solution in micro-tooling?

Pierre Castella, Vice-President of Dixi at the inauguration.

Pierre Castella, Vice-President of Dixi at the inauguration.

Marc Schuler, CEO of Dixi Polytool presenting the Lean anufacturing project to the authorities and invited companies.

Marc Schuler, CEO of Dixi Polytool presenting the Lean anufacturing project to the authorities and invited companies.

The print media and television answered positively to the invitation to discover "the new" Dixi polytool.

The print media and television answered positively to the invitation to discover “the new” Dixi Polytool.

Even if the lean manufacturing project is not finished yet and that machines are moving around regularly, the workshop is nice and people completely involved in the company's success.

Even if the Lean Manufacturing project is not finished yet and that machines are moving around regularly, the workshop is nice and people completely involved in the company’s success.


DIXI Polytool S.A.
37 the Technicum av.
CH-2400 Le Locle
Tel. + 41 32 933 51 22
Fax + 41 32 931 89 16



..brought to you by Eurotec-Online.com


To easily machine within the tolerance

17 10 2014

The CoroChuck® 930 high precision hydraulic chuck from Sandvik Coromant has enjoyed considerable success since its launch in 2013. Now, demand from BIG PLUS users for a secure tooling performance in milling and drilling operations has led to the additional availability of the chuck for this patented spindle system.

Ideal for meeting the demands for high run-out precision, extensive tests have shown this new hydraulic chuck provides the best pull-out resistance available on the market. The secret behind its accuracy and pull-out security can be found in the optimized design of the brazed clamping membrane. This promotes ultra-secure clamping with two supports on each side (fulcrums).

High process security
Ultimately, there is significantly less risk of tool pull out which has been previously witnessed frequently when using high helix tools. This unwanted effect is particularly troublesome in the aerospace industry when pocketing large aero-frame structures such as wing skins and ribs. If pull-out goes unnoticed, entire components might have to be scrapped if the cutter has been inadvertently cutting at a greater depth than intended.

Performance boost
The design of CoroChuck 930 ensures excellent torque transmission to improve the performance of solid carbide end mills, drills and reaming tools. When used with milling tools, low run-out of the cutter will also ensure consistent feed per tooth, resulting in predictable tool life and allowing component tolerances to be maintained more easily. What’s more, the performance of CoroChuck 930 can be repeated over multiple clamping cycles to retain high quality component surfaces – the product is also designed with dampening features that serve to minimize vibration during the machining process. CoroChuck 930 can be quickly tightened or released with a dedicated torque wrench, improving efficiency through fast and easy set-ups and changes. No other external equipment is required to clamp or unclamp the system.

Micron precision
The chuck holds tolerances within microns to improve tool precision, surface finish and productivity. Indeed, precision run-out can be measured at <4 μm at 2.5 × DC. Covering all common machine interfaces, CoroChuck 930 is suitable for machine tools that include lathes, machining centres, multi-task machines, and driven tools in turning centres and VTLs. Available in pencil, slender and heavy duty design, the chuck is balanced according to DIN 69888. Tailor Made options can also be specified.





…brought to you by Eurotec-Online.com

Flexible gauging just got faster

16 10 2014

Shop floor process control with Equator now includes New ultra-fast touch trigger probing, easy-to-use feature-based offsetting and updated EZ-IO automation software.

Equator fitted with TP20 touch trigger modules and SP25 scanning modules.

Equator fitted with TP20 touch trigger modules and SP25 scanning modules.

Manufacturers using the Renishaw Equator™ flexible gauge now have even more options for inspecting parts right where they are being made – on the shop floor, in the toughest of conditions. With the new TP20 touch trigger probe kit, Feature Compare and updated EZ-IO software, flexible gauging is now ultra-fast, simpler to setup and easier to automate.

Equator gauges are already used by hundreds of manufacturers worldwide for high speed flexible gauging, as manually loaded systems or in fully automated cells. Equator provides flexibility for engineers to re-program for design changes and for shop-floor operators to switch between different parts in seconds, using repeatable removable fixture plates and easy-to-use Organiser software. Manufacturers recognise the benefits of Equator’s combination of flexibility, fast scanning, low purchase price, and low cost of ownership (Equator requires no regular re-calibration). These benefits, when combined with the system’s unique ability to compensate for the effects of challenging environmental conditions, make it the gauge of choice in any industry.

Short cycle times for all applications
The ultra-fast TP20 touch trigger probe can now be combined on Equator with the high speed scanning of the SP25 scanning probe. TP20 can be used for fast capture of discrete point data, with the stiff lightweight structure of Equator allowing very short cycle times and high repeatability on simple touch point measurements. The touch trigger kit includes robust industry-standard TP20 modules and a new range of extension bars and joints.

Feature Compare
Equator uses the principle of mastering to cope with changes in temperature on the shop floor. Now the process of calibrating the master part is made very easy with the new Feature Compare function. Master parts do not need to be expensive or custom made; users can simply take a production part and measure it. The master part could be measured in a number of ways, including on a calibrated co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) in a temperature-controlled environment. This measurement establishes the variation of the master part from CAD or drawing nominals. With Feature Compare the user can simply take the master part measurement data and enter the compensation values for each feature’s size, position or orientation. The simple and unique Feature Compare interface has been designed for effortless data input.

There are much more to discover. For further information on Equator gauging visit www.renishaw.com/gauging.


…brought to you by Eurotec-online.com


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