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Micro Lathe enables new micro parts, flexible configurations

February 29, 2016 2:16 pm

Medical Micro Machining uses Microlution MR-4 for extreme precision. 

Small parts are a big deal at Medical Micro Machining in Colfax, Wash. The company machines everything from components for life-saving medical devices to electronics involved in “deep space” radio communication. The company’s reputation for high precision, high accuracy machining reaches from NASA to some of the country’s largest medical device makers, and President Rob Whitmore even holds several patents for small part design, including a recent patent for a surgical bone screw with a custom thread pattern that solves a number of issues surgeons have had with more conventional thread designs.

When it comes to high precision micro turning applications, Medical Micro relies on Microlution MR-4 micro lathes. Like other Microlution micro machining platforms, the MR-4 is optimized for high precision applications with an extremely stable, compact design and enhanced flexibility for prototyping, R&D, and small batch production runs.

“The main advantages that the MR-4 gives us are in quick set up times, improved cycle times, and fast change over from job to job,” Rob says. “It is extremely easy to set up and tear down for different applications, and we’re able to machine parts we can’t make with other systems.”

The MR-4 features modular, gang-style tooling, live tooling, four axes of motion, automated tool sensing, and Microlution’s signature high-speed motion platform which provides unmatched stability.

“For example, I can machine parts with 17 thousandths outer diameter, 13 thousandths long and 7.5 thousandths inner diameter,” says Rob. “The live tooling can come in from any orientation, and the sensor lets me know the exact status of the tool.”

Four axes of motion provide additional flexibility. “The Y-axis is really valuable,” Rob says. “You can have a live tooling that is both radial and axial. You can drill angled holes in multiple locations. The Fourth Axis allows you to stack tools in that axis and provides the ability to put more tools into the production process.”

Medical Micro Machining uses the MR-4 to machine stainless steel, tungsten-copper, Titanium, as well as plastics and polymers and other materials.  With just a 40-inch x 60-inch footprint, the compact design of the MR-4 provides numerous advantages over conventional, larger lathes:

  • Reduced footprint requires less floor space
  • Smaller design requires less cutting fluid
  • The elimination of cantilevers and overhangs increases overall machine rigidity
  • Shorter machine travels require less energy to operate

Surgical Bone Screw Developed by Medical Micro Machining

The MR-4’s open, modular gang-style tooling makes the multiple axes of motion easier to use and more efficient than traditional lathes. This synergy enables new levels of efficiency and performance, even compared to machines two to three times more expensive. Additional features include:

  • A servomotor driven spindle featuring indexing capability for live-tool machining
  • Several options for spindles (up to 10,000 rpm) and live tooling (up to 30,000 rpm) available
  • Complete system optimization for high fidelity features on small parts
  • Fully automated part retrieval system

 The MR-4 offers the advantages of gang-style tooling: easy access, rapid setup, simplicity, and speed, along with Microlution’s proprietary high-speed motion platform.  The result is a system that reduces cycle times and lowers operating costs while maintaining micron level accuracy. The system also includes:

  • A modular design for multiple combinations of end tools, turning tools, and live tooling
  • The use of stock tool holders for tooling up off-line for reduced down time
  • An integrated Blum sensor provides automated tool setting

A variable magnification camera and dedicated monitor for manual tool setting as well as the ability to see the machining process in real time

About Medical Micro Machining

Medical Micro Machining, Inc. specializes in manufacturing extremely small parts for a wide variety of industries. These include medical, dental, electronic, fiberoptic, microwave, and more. For more information visit www.medicalmicromachining.net.