There has been significant growth in worldwide demand for the manufacture of components having dimensions < 10 mm and features in the 1 - 100 µm range or indeed significantly larger components with micro features for use in the medical (eg. micro cutting tools, implants, pacemaker features, fluidic mixing chambers, capillary units), automotive (eg. fuel injectors, gears, pumps), aerospace (eg. cooling holes in engine components, pressure transducer parts, gyroscope parts) and electronic / communications (mobile phone components, heat exchangers, relays) industries.
Additionally, there has been a considerable increase in the number of academic publications on micro-machining, particularly from the USA, Japan, Korea and Germany, which points to future industrial growth across these sectors.
A key advantage of the West Midlands Micro-Machining Centre is its ability to accommodate a wide range of ferrous, non-ferrous and non -metallic materials via its range of high speed milling, electrical discharge and ultrasonic machining facilities. Typically this enables the manufacture of components in materials as diverse as fully hardened tool steels, titanium alloys, nickel-based superalloys, aluminium alloys, glasses / ceramics, composites and even diamond.
The presence of related research centres within the School such as the Bio-Engineering unit, the well established Microsystems & Nanotechnology Centre and the world renowned IRC in Materials Processing (advanced materials) provides a large base of resources and expertise for collaboration.