Development of Subminiature Abrasive-Waterjet Nozzles toward Micromachining
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
21409-72ND Ave S, Kent, WA, 98032
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I seeks to develop a micro-abrasive-waterjet nozzle for machining features between 50 to 100 micrometers. The project is extremely challenging because abrasive waterjet (AWJ) machining involves an ultrahigh-speed, 3-phase flow engaging in complex solid/fluid interactions within very small dimensions that are changing rapidly. The project is aiming to minimize the beam diameters of abrasive waterjets, reshape and refocus the jet stream exiting the nozzle, improve flow characteristics of fine abrasives, and mitigate abrasive clogging. The micro-abrasive-waterjet nozzle with a single-feed port will become the most compact size of its kind by eliminating the vacuum assist and water flushing requirements needed to prevent abrasive clogging. The recent advent of micro-nano, green energy, and biomedical technologies has created tremendous opportunities for low-cost micromanufacturing. The micro-abrasive-waterjet will take advantage of the inherent merits of waterjet technology -- versatility (material independence), cold cutting (preservation of material integrity), cost effectiveness, and fast turnaround -- that are unmatchable by most established tools. The final goal is to further downsize abrasive waterjet nozzles toward micromachining, meet the high demand for low-cost micromanufacturing and further boost the market share of waterjet machine tools. The broader/commercial impact of waterjet micromachining will be machining fits well within the 'just-in-time' practice of lean manufacturing; using waterjet machining, small and large parts/lots made from most materials can be completed from design to finish in hours -- something that is not possible through outsourcing them abroad. This project's development of waterjet micromachining will promote waterjet technology for high value-added jobs and further sustain its phenomenal growth. Inserting additional waterjet systems into the manufacturer arena would not only raise the awareness of this technology but also help save jobs from being outsourced overseas. This could have an important society impact through planting the seeds needed to help rebuild a sustainable U.S. manufacturing industry, leading to reversing the three-decade long trend of the continued shrinkage of domestic manufacturing workforce, and revitalizing the once prosperous manufacturing business toward a recovery of America's economy.
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