Supporting the Future of Precision Engineering
New Way Air Bearings® prides ourselves on supporting the next generation of precision manufacturing, and the engineers who move our industry forward. To this end, New Way is a proud sponsor of the American Society of Precision Engineering’s 2021 Student Challenge.
Each year the ASPE student challenge invites teams of student engineers from universities across the world to design and manufacture a precision machining apparatus, beginning with a set of tools, motion systems and encoders provided by sponsors of the event. Once the teams have developed,manufactured, and used their machines, their samples are sent for metrological inspection, and the teams present on the course of the work.
The 2021 ASPE challenge
For the 2021 ASPE Challenge, teams were tasked to design and build a precision scribe tool controller, which can be integrated with a precision XY platen to produce a vertical axis tool force control, or a scribing tool. This type of tool may be used for engraving microscale level blanks and optical components. The challenge draws sponsors from numerous industries across the precision manufacturing sector.
The flexural assembly was provided by Motus Mechanical, while New Way provided a newly developed, magnetically preloaded air bearing (soon to come as a product offering). Sensing was driven by a Heidenhain digital encoder. Scribing samples were provided to Zeiss Metrology —the industry leader in optics and optical metrology— for inspection and tolerance verification.
The test wafers chosen were silicon, with copper on chrome plating, for a combined 0.75mm thickness. The challenge was to develop an XY stage, and appropriately tune its PID controller such that the teams can etch 50 lines/mm, with sharp corners and 135 degree angle between peaks.
Precision Where it Matters
Per the student design team at the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, the main sources of positioning error arose from a nonlinear sensitivity within the stage’s voice coil, the step intervals within the provided 16 bit DAQ module, and drift within the provided load cell, which summed to a total of 51.4mN of error.
It is worth noting that they did not find positioning error coming from the XY air bearing stage itself. As has been previously demonstrated, air bearings offer positioning resolution only limited by the encoder which drives their motion, as there is no inertia to cause overshoot or hysteresis within their motion.
The committee members for judging the student projects included our own Drew Devitt, founder of New Way Air Bearings and former president of the ASPE, who’s always had a vested interest in providing our products to help further the growth and development in aspiring engineers. This year, the ASPE first place prize went to Yintao Wang, Zezhi Tian, Qi Shao, and their advisor Shih-Shi Chen, of the department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
New Way Air Bearings looks forward to our continued sponsorship of the ASPE Student Challenge in 2022, and if you want to learn more about our products or our forthcoming magnetically preloaded air bearings, please contact us!