closing in on perfection ultraprecision machine tools are putting manufacturers within nanometers of absolute accuracy.
( Fortune magazine) -The History of Light manipulation is writing a new chapter. Lenses that restore vision to the blind. Smaller, as large as lentils, can make DVD and CD players. High- Technology lights in cars and homes can surpass the old ones Making bulbs in decades What these products have in common is that they or their enabling components are manufactured by ultra-precision machine tools. These super machines are at the top of the manufacturing industry. Machine series. They are almost able to be precise at the atomic level, as close to perfect as manufacturing. At present, about 90% of these machine fashion products are optical products. - From the iris scanner and ear thermometer to laser printers and digital cameras, complex lenses and mirrors are used in a variety of products. But more and more mechanical parts-fuel- For example, the injection system- Also need high Precision manufacturing. The possibility of new applications is increasing. Says Herman E. II-Reedy, executive vice presidentVI, a $130-million-a- \"Ultra-precision processing enables us to make today\'s products, and we can only dream of years ago. \"This has created prosperity in this small part of the machine --tool market. This niche market has only $100 million in annual global sales and is one of the few growth areas in the industry. Just two U. S. The machines are made by the company and their factory is running at full speed. European and Japanese companies are also competing. The largest U. S. Keane of the company, Precitech, N. H. The company\'s annual revenue is $20 million, and sales have tripled over the past three years. 75 machines will be sold this year. The company\'s only domestic competitor, also Keene\'s Moore nanotechnology systems, is expected to sell 25 machines this year, with revenue rising from $7 million in 2002 to $5 million. These machines cost $250,000 to $1 million, about three to four times the price of similar machines -- The size of the traditional machine tool, but its accuracy is surprising. And in the traditional processing- For example, drilling holes in the bumper of cars and trucks- Accuracy of 0. Below 001 inch is acceptable, ultra-precision machining measurements work at a fraction of one millionth in nano or inch. In the best case, precision machining can reach the atomic level and be able to create an optical surface damaged by the touch of the finger. To make such a precise machine, it requires considerable precision in itself. This is a strict process in which each part is isolated from air or oil to prevent friction from getting things dirty. First, by the highest- The foundation of the machine is high-quality steel. Machine housing at 1,000- A granite slab placed on the airbag to protect it from the vibration of the frame. Inside the shell is the internal organs of the machine: spindle--a steel shaft-- Isolated by a thin layer of air in the brass sleeve. This creates an \"air bearing\" that will stabilize the spindle when it rotates to 15,000 rpm without the error that will occur if mechanical bearings are used. Other moving parts of the machine are guide rails. Among them, Precitech made inquality, fine- The fine-grained cast iron support spindle called Durabar, which in turn supports tools and workpieces. Like the spindle, the guide rail is not in contact with other metal parts; They float on a thin layer of oil. No grinding of bearings, no brush of metal to metal- There are no factors for the wear of traditional machine tools. Even with the flat linear motor used in these machines, there is no mechanical contact between the coil and other components. All this made the operation very smooth. Execute with total accuracy-- To avoid damage to expensive optical parts they are making- These tools are equipped with computers. Control the device, continuously sampling data from the part while processing the part, and passing the information back to the machine. Then, the working parts of the machine respond and move in increments of one Nano. This movement is called resolution in the industry, which is 250 times higher than the accuracy of traditional machine tools. Therefore, it is now possible for only one nano-sized surface finish to deviate from absolute perfection-about one- The thickness of human hair is 75. The core of the ultra-precision machine is a working tool with gemsQuality diamonds. Small stones make \"single Point diamond steering, \"a process used to make a variety of electronic products Optical elements--night- To give a few examples, the Mirror of the vision system, industrial and medical lasers, and the telecom components. It works like this: diamonds form a tool that looks like a woodpecker\'s mouth. This tool cleanly \"rotates\" or removes thin sheets of metal or plastic from the parts that rotate in front of it. Walter levandovsky, R & D manager at Precitech, said that while the horsepower of traditional tools is as high as tens of horsepower, \"only an ounce of thrust is needed to keep our machine tools in touch with materials. \"We use fine controls to remove a little bit of material, not a lot of power to remove a lot of material. \"The smaller the power used, the greater the accuracy of the process. It works well with non-ferrous materials such as aluminum, copper, tin and silver, but it is more complicated to use this process on fragile materials such as black metal or optical glass such as steel. The chemical reaction turns the diamond into graphite, destroying the cutting edge of the tool. This is a serious limitation because steel is used to make fuel. Injection parts of the car\'s engine, not to mention millions of molds for cd, dvd, contact lenses and dual focus. To solve this problem, some users use boron instead Nitrite tool for diamonds. These parts are not as accurate as diamonds, but black parts generally do not require the same precision as optical elements. Other machines user coated on steel with paper Before processing it into a non-ferrous metal with a diamond, turn it into a thin layer of nickel. With these modifications, the black metal can be processed into the required precision. The most exciting trend in precision machining is the ability to use so-called free-Form a geometric shape. The growing demand for such lenses, mirrors and other components with asymmetric surfaces leads to the development of machines that can operate on three, four, or even five axes. Inside these machines, cutting tools and workpieces perform complex dances. In an advanced technology called grating flying shear --- The reason why this is named is because it is similar to the grating or scan line of the TV --- When a cutting tool or wheel moves up to five axes, the work piece being processed remains stationary, just like the spatula of a greatly accelerated sculptor. Ability of quality- The manufacture of asymmetrical or \"non-spherical mirror\" lenses has made amazing progress in the control of light. Non-spherical lenses concentrate light more effectively than traditional lenses, greatly reducing the amount required for the product to work, while improving its efficacy. This has promoted the prosperity of various consumer electronics and industrial electronics. \"Ultra-precision processing has the same effect on light as the effect of integrated circuits on electronic products,\" said Allen R . \"Hedges, a Ph. D. In the optical field of management II-Precision MachiningVI. The latest ultra-precision optical system is behind the improvement of laser accuracy -- For example, missiles and missiles used in the Iraq war. More- We have ordinary applications every day. 3 m high with ultra-precision machine Highway signs and reflective belts of police cars. Inside the tape, tiny pyramid lenses bounce light from one lens to the other and finally back to the light source. The camera of the zoom lens that used to be measured with the foot can now be placed in the jacket pocket. Using a non-spherical mirror in a laser printer reduces the length of the scanning system by half and greatly reduces the cost. More innovation is being used. Considering the increasing use of optics in cars, such as in the headlights of cars --model cars. Not only are they smaller and more slender than their predecessors, but in the corner, you may find a honeycomb made up of tiny lenses, where the light is better concentrated. Other electro-Optical devices--light- LEDs or LEDs- Now used as brake lights on some luxury cars. The Led is 20 times more efficient than the bulb and can last for decades. Precision optics are also entering other parts of the car. Bishop steering technology, a Sydney engineering company, has developed an advanced photoelectric technology Electronic sensor for power supply Turn to institutions. Bishop torque and angle sensor (BTAS) Electronic inclusion Optical chips and sensor modules will replace hydraulic and mechanical components in today\'s steering mechanisms. Bishop sensor on steering The wheel axle emits a light pulse corresponding to the distance and strength of the driver\'s turning wheel. The control chip receives the light and converts it into a command and then hands its telex to the mechanism that manipulates the wheel. The system will be manufactured by Robert Bosch, Germany, and is expected to debut in the European car market in 2005. BTAS pointed out the direction for the final elimination of mechanical steering, replacing the standard rackand- Small gear system with computer Based on the first era of lasers and about 30 precision lenses. It will make \"line-controlled driving\" a concept that borrows the airline\'s \"line-controlled flight\": without the steering wheel, the driver can control the car with a side lever like a jet. Stick full of sensors and electronic equipment Optical control, will drive data through wire transmission. It may sound like science fiction, but Daimler Chrysler, GM and other automakers have built prototypes that eliminate steering columns and steering wheels as well as throttle and brake pedals. Partial drive-by- Wires have appeared in recent models, including the cancellation of throttle cables in Ford\'s 03 Lincoln LS and Thunderbirds. Earlier this year, Daimler Chrysler acquired a 30% stake in Bishop\'s parent company, Bishop technology, and a 100% stake in Bishop\'s German subsidiary. Drive is widely used-by- The wire system will be a huge accurate Gospeltool makers. \"I can index the number of shots in the car with one hand. \"Most of them are in CD players,\" said David Davis, CEO of Precitech . \". \"Now suddenly, the steering mechanism will contain 30 lenses. \"Perhaps the most important use of precision machining is to help functional blind people recover their eyesight. About 50,000 Americans and thousands of people around the world suffer severe damage to the cornea, a transparent dome that covers the front of the eye and helps focus the eye. If the cornea is damaged, the light can cause unbearable pain, so most of the affected people are forced to spend their life in a dark room and can hardly see anything. Perry Rosenthal, an eye doctor\'s small generator, is using precision machining to change the situation. Rosenthal, head of the Boston Vision Foundation, has revived and perfected a 100-year- An old German invention that can cover the eye or be white. Unlike normal contact lenses, the arch on these cornea is not in contact, making it possible for people with damaged cornea to wear it. Rosenthal began using this lens to treat some successful patients. However, his lens production did not really start until two years ago when his clinic obtained a $275,000 machine from Precitech, which was produced by Bausch & Lomb The new machine not only accelerates Rosenthal\'s output, but also improves the lens. In order to avoid sticking to the eyes and injuring the eyes, tiny grooves are required on the inner surface of the lens; These are the pipes of tears, the natural lubricant of the eyes. In the past, when the lens was made on a less reliable lathe, the passage had to be dug out by hand with great effort; Now they are automatically engraved. Now 400 people are wearing the scleral mirror in Boston, including a young woman who can continue her career as an artist, a grandmother who first met her grandchildren, A young employee of Philadelphia FedEx was able to return to work, saying he now believes in \"miracles \". \"It looks like divine intervention, but it\'s actually just an extremely precise example.