This Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) award supports a collaborative effort by researchers at three institutions to develop mechanical machining processes and equipment necessary to produce miniature devices by a truly 3D method. This requires the capability to bridge the micro- to macro- fabrication and design domain in order to capture the features and the machining challenges that occur at the "meso" level. While there are a number of instances where micro and meso machined features are accomplished using conventional or ultra-precision machine tool sizes and technologies, there is a need to create a "miniaturized" machine tool system for the effective production of miniature mechanical products.
The goal of this SGER is to build and demonstrate the milling, drilling, and turning capabilities of a meso-scale universal machining center, capable of producing features in the 50 to 5000 micron range. If successful, the longer-term goal is to pursue the further reduction in size of this "meso" machine-tool to achieve a "micro" machine-tool system.