SBIR Phase I: Reduced-Friction Cutting Tools for Increased Productivity via Micro-fluidic Lubrication (MFL)
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will address the feasibility of cutting tools with micro-geometric features to provide lubrication where it will be most effective. The innovation includes the new micro-fluidic lubrication (MFL) features as well as a commercial production process for high-volume manufacture of cutting inserts exhibiting MFL features. Mechanical machining processes are used in the manufacture of many products. Modern cutting tool materials, including diamond and cubic-boron-nitride, are the hardest known and are becoming routinely used. However, they are very expensive compared to tungsten carbide, the performance of which can be enhanced with alloying and coatings to reduce its tendency to chemically dissolve into the chip and work piece at high temperatures. Unfortunately, all these substrate materials and modern coatings are already very advanced and will offer little more than incremental improvements in the near future. This project will addresses the productivity (cutting speed) limitation imposed by thermally induced wear, by reducing the heat source on the tool. It is anticipated that this new approach will allow a doubling of cutting speed for the same wear of the non-MFL case. The broader (commercial) impact of manufacturing MFL inserts would be large given the U.S. market for inserts being about $1.3B, including $900MM in carbide inserts only about $217MM are made in the U.S. (2002 data). "Difficult to machine" materials are seen most in automotive and tool/die manufacturing (hard steel) and aircraft manufacturing (titanium and nickel-based alloys). Cutting tool expenditures for these industries in 2004 were about $370MM and $55MM, respectively. Capturing only 10% of engine machining, and 40% of the others, revenues would be $95MM. This project could be useful in meso-scale machines.
Small Business Information at Submission:
1402 East Sharon Avenue Houghton, MI 49931
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