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Micro machining with abrasive waterjets (MICROAB)
Start date: 01 Oct 2014, End date: 31 Mar 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Miniaturisation of products requires non-contact machining of micro components. Lasers, wire discharge machining (EDM) and abrasive waterjets are the three main non-contact machining methods but abrasive waterjets have yet to be commercialised for micro machining. This project will result in micro abrasive waterjets becoming an established method for micromachining components from ceramics, metals, glasses, composites and layered materials. Finepart Sweden AB has been assigned patented and patent applied technologies by a UK based pioneer of micro abrasive waterjets in exchange for shares. A prototype micro abrasive waterjet system, with cutting jet diameters down to 80 µm, has been used to cut a wide range of materials and material thicknesses. Technical developments will be scalable to smaller cutting jet diameters and for exploitation in fine and macro machining.Finepart manufactures and sales a fine abrasive waterjet machining centre whose platform is constructed to advanced machine tool standards with accuracies needed for micromachining. The machining platform will be adapted for micromachining including 5 axis capabilities.It is estimated that the development of micro cutting capabilities will increase the market for abrasive waterjet based machine tools by 20%. The market in 2014 is estimated at EUR 0.7 billion with predictions it will grow to over five times its current size.Finepart’s strategic objective is to develop an international business based on micro abrasive waterjet machining centers. Selling will be through a global network of machine tool distributors with an extensive European distributor network in place when sales of micro abrasive waterjet center commence. A business plan will set out the technical developments needed and costs to demonstrate the commercial viability of micro abrasive waterjets and the management and commercial actions to develop Finepart. The business plan will form part of a proposal for stage 2 funding.
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