The University of Nottingham has launched a unique micro waterjet machine which enables it to cut almost any material to a micron level of accuracy.
Micro waterjets work by mixing a very fine abrasive with accelerated water at incredibly high speeds. They can cut everything from felt to precious stones and hard alloys at very high speeds and also provide a unique method of fast and flexible prototype production.
The first machine of its kind in the UK
At the heart of the new centre at the University is a new state-of-the-art £250k waterjet machine, the only one of its kind in the UK, which has been donated to the University by the Swiss based company Micro WaterJet AG.
The machine will be an integral part of a major new pan-European industrial and academic training project which The University of Nottingham is co-ordinating, known as STEEP. Funded through the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the STEEP project focuses on Energy Beam processing and includes 10 main partners and 18 associate partners from 12 European countries.
Energy Beam processing is emerging as a key set of technologies for the manufacture of high-value components and products for use in industries ranging from aerospace to jewellery and medicine. It involves removing controlled depths of materials via abrasive waterjet, pulsed laser, or focus ion beam.
Manufacturing a wide range of components
The University of Nottingham is a world leader in the use of High Energy Fluid Jets and is currently at the demonstration stage of another European FP7 project called ConforM2 Jet which investigates the development of complex parts using the technology.
Speaking about the opening of the new Micro Waterjet Centre, Professor Dragos Axinte, who is the Coordinator of the STEEP and ConforM2-Jet projects, said: “This new Micro Waterjet Centre will be an invaluable part of our research into Energy Beam processing through the STEEP project and I particularly want to thank Micro WaterJet AG for providing the waterjet machine for us to use.
"This development would have not happened without the diligent work undertaken through the on-going collaborative work (FP7: ConforM2-Jet) led by Dr. Amir Rabani. The machine can cut a wide range of materials, without causing damage or changing the structure of the material and this has an exciting range of potential industrial applications, so we will also be working closely with our business partners to see how Micro waterjet technology can be applied in different industries. "
Pushing the boundaries of processing research
Mr Walter Maurer Board, Chairman of the WATERjet Group Switzerland, owners of Micro Waterjet AG, said: “It is a great pleasure to be able to provide The University of Nottingham with this micro waterjet machine. I am sure that the University will find it invaluable for its research into processing. I also believe it will help us to gain a better understanding of the full potential applications of the micro waterjet technology.”
Chris Rudd, Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement at The University of Nottingham, added: “We have a huge wealth of expertise in advanced manufacturing processes at Nottingham. This new centre will further add to our knowledge and capability in this area and will enable us to find new solutions to manufacturing issues.”
For more information about the STEEP project, visit www.steep.itn.eu.
To find out about The University of Nottingham’s services for businesses, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/servicesforbusiness.