Metals Processing

In the column to the right you will find useful information about the processing of metals.

Below you will find recent posts on the 4M Association which are considered to be of interest to the Metals Interest Group.

Hard Milling

The micro-cutting of steel with tungsten carbide tools can meet many of the demands of miniaturised components. A prerequisite for a stable machining process is a homogeneous, hard workpiece material with no internal stresses. The achievable surface roughness is between Rz = 0.5 μm and 1 μm. The most important process parameter is the cutting velocity. Depending on the hardness of the material, higher cutting velocities lead to better surface qualities.

Electroplating

Technology suitable for small quantity production

The process used in electroplating is called electrodeposition. The item to be coated is placed into a container containing a solution of one or more metal salts. The item is connected to an electrical circuit, forming the anode or the cathode of the circuit. When an electrical current is passed through the circuit, metal ions in the solution are attracted to the item. The result is an evenly-coated layer of metal around the item.

Electroforming

Technology suitable for small quantity production

In this case it is necessary to machine the inverted features in a material that is easy to dissolve (Al7075 or Al6063), and then produce the mould by depositing nickel or copper on the surface until a suitable thickness has been reached. Since the metals or alloys grown by electroforming are deposited at relatively low temperatures, they tend to be very fine grained.

Microcasting/Injection Molding

Technology suitable for both serial and small quantity production

In Injection molding the polymer material is heated and melted and then forced into the tool cavity using high pressure. Usually the tool temperature is relatively low compared to the material. Metal injection molding is a recently developed method, where a mixture of metal powder and binder is injected into the mold.

The material solidifies under a maintained pressure before it is ejected out of the tool. In micro injection molding very low shot weights (0.01 g) and even smaller part weights have to be realized.

Lithography and Etching

Technology suitable for small quantity production Ultraviolet lithography is a technology which involves surface cleaning, photoresist coating by spin-coating, spraying or dip-coating, exposing to UV radiation, developing and isotropic or anisotropic wet-etching of metals and semiconductors or dry-etching (anisotropic etching with verticallity of 89º, maximum aspect ratio in the order of 15) for pattern transfer. Typical pattern resolution is 1 micron, although resolutions up to 0.5 microns are often obtained in some ultra precision processes.

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