SBIR Phase II: Development of Subminiature Abrasive-Waterjet Nozzles toward Micromachining

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

21409-72ND Ave S
Kent, WA 98032
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop micro abrasive-waterjet technology for automated machining features between 50 to 100 micrometers. The challenge lies in the development of nozzles with beam diameters less than 100 micrometers. Several issues must be resolved due to the complexity of the supersonic, 3-phase, and microfluidic flow through micro abrasive-waterjet nozzles in which capillary dominates gravity. The required size of abrasives is so small that they tend to clump together with poor flowability under gravity feed, causing intermittent abrasive feed and frequent nozzle clogging. New concepts initiated by the company to resolve the above issues has proven to be very effective. In parallel, novel accessories are being developed to further reduce the size of features that cannot be accomplished alone by the nozzles. The micro abrasive waterject nozzles and accessories will be mounted on a multi-nozzle platform to upgrade existing waterjet equipment for micromachining and for enhancing productivity and/or integrated into a micro Jet Machining Center by combining them with a low-power pump and a small footprint platform tailored for low-cost micromachining. The broader/commercial impact of this project is the versatility of waterjet technology ("5M" - from macro to micro machining for most materials) is to develop a new product line of low-cost micrometer Jet Machining Centers. To meet the urgent need for the affordability of the healthcare system, commercialization of micro abrasive-waterjet technology for low-cost manufacturing of biomedical components for orthopedic implants will be explored. The micro abrasive-waterjet technology would also advantageously apply to manufacture components of green energy products and microelectronics. With global emphasis on R & D in micro-nano technology, micro-nano products will be available commercially soon. The micro abrasive-waterjet technology would help accelerate maturing of that technology. By relaxing precision requirements, the micro abrasive-waterjet could readily be turned into an affordable prosumer/consumer product superior to conventional tools for fabricating art, crafts and jewelry. Small job shops would benefit from the cost-effective micro abrasive-waterjet technology since the initial investment for getting into micromachining has been cost prohibitive.