Saturday, 02 August 2014
Advanced search

Ultrasonic machining device cuts like a "knife through butter"

An ultrasonic device developed by researchers at Loughborough university could, it is claimed revolutionise cutting, drilling and milling processes.

The tool, which relies on a technique called ultrasonically-assisted machining (UAM) and has so far been tested on composite materials, uses a specially designed piezoelectric transducer working in tandem with a traditional turning, drilling or milling machine.

Creating ultrasonic vibrations at anything between 20kHz and 39kHz, the device makes the composite material so ‘soft’ in the area being worked on that much less force is needed from the cutting tool, resulting in less damage, less waste, and a better finish.

The technique is the brainchild of Professor Vladimir Babitsky, from the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and has been developed extensively in the last few years with the support of Dr Anish Roy and Professor Vadim Silberschmidt.

‘The technique has been successful in the laboratory where multi-fold improvements in cutting intractable aerospace alloys have been demonstrated. It makes machining so easy it is like cutting through butter,’ said Dr Roy.

The technique is currently being extended into biomedical applications such as drilling holes in bones for orthopaedic surgery and is also thought to have potential for drilling the tiny in printed circuit boards that are required for precision electronics manufacture.

Readers' comments (4)

  • '..the device makes the composite material so ‘soft’ in the area...'

    Does this mean this technique only works for composite materials? The article isn't clear.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Apologies. The technique has so far been tested on composite materials, although the researchers claim that it could be applied to a range of other materials, including metal alloys.

  • Part of the UK's industrial, engineering and manufacturing renaissance needs to be in these type of machines, I hope a whole range are made in Britain and exported world wide. Excellent technology.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I would be interested to see if it could be applied to a Mars rover to break up rocks for analysis more efficiently.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Leicester-based company Magna Parva has developed a drill for rovers which works along these lines.

  • I have been on my own R&D with attempt to make a Break-Thru that can revolutionize somehow industries I have worked in.
    I look into 2 types of ultrasonic high amplitude applications. One with Utrasonic inline whereas other tangential. In other words they can be understood as chopping and sliding.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say


Related images

My saved stories (Empty)

You have no saved stories

Save this article

Digital Edition

The Engineer July Digi Issue


London Mayor Boris Johnson is lobbying for a £10 additional charge for diesel cars to drive into Central London by 2020, and for road tax on diesel cars and all pre-2006 cars to be increased, to counter air pollution. What option most closely matches your opinion on this?

Previous Poll

Europe's largest tidal array in the Pentand Firth off Orkney will eventually generate up to 86MW of power. What will it take for tidal energy to make an appreciable contribution to the UK's energy needs?

Read and comment on the results here