Result: Micro-FAST prototype machine

Expected Impact/Targeted User Groups: First of this kind of the machine for the manufacture of miniaturised components with various engineering materials which is expected to generate significant impact / Micro-manufacturing industry and manufacturing machinery industry in general

The 1st industrial version forming-machine based on the Micro-FAST process principle has been developed for the forming of miniature/micro-sized components with a wide range of powder materials. The press has maximum force of 50KN, enabled by precisely guided hydraulic cylinders. It consists of two working stations – forming/sintering and die/component cooling. These are conducted within a main vacuum chamber (10-3mbar). A die-set containing the powder and forming tools is transported from pre-vacuum chamber to the main vacuum chamber, and then to the third vacuum chamber for further cooling, through an in-situ transport system. Die-set entering the machine and leaving the machine as well as vacuum doors’ opening and closures are fully controlled automatically. The heating of the dies/materials is realised by a power transformer, which can heat up the core section of the powder up to 1600°C within seconds. Force, displacement, forming temperature, level of the vacuum and cooling controls can be pre-set and then fully controlled through using various sensors, controllers and advanced software specially developed for this machine. Depending on the geometric features and type of the material to be formed, the machine is able to form parts from several millimetres to 50 millimetres in overall sizes. For micro-sized components and certain types of materials, producing 200 parts per hour is achiveable.

Micro-FAST Consortium has developed an industrial version forming machine system – first of this kind of the system in the world enabling automated production of miniature/micro-components directly from loose powders, with a range of powder materials, including metals, ceramics, MMCs, WC, cermets, etc. that are difficult-to-form and difficult-to-cut materials. This is a significant progress from lab type research equipment and existing SPS equipment. In-chamber transport system is an innovate design enabling continuous production with Micro-FAST. Monitoring and control system represents state of the art of such systems for powder-based production.