Amorphology, a NASA spinoff company founded from technology developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology, is a leader in applying advanced materials and manufacturing technologies toward improving gear production for robotics and other industrial applications using amorphous metals, also known as bulk metal glass (BMG).
The demo center will be at Amorphology’s Pasadena, California, headquarters where Starrag’s Bumotec s191H CNC machine will be showcased, machining a wide variety of parts from mold inserts to rapid prototype gears, as well as other production BMGs and traditional metal parts.
“We are targeting high-precision parts with tolerances often <5µm on certain dimensions,” said Jason Riley, Amorphology’s chief operating officer. “The majority of our work is focused on rapid prototyping and production quantities in the hundreds of parts per month.”
“Establishing a laboratory environment to showcase the precision, quality, and capabilities of the Bumotec s191H will enable aerospace and defense engineers to experience this real-time machining that could be used in their manufacturing operations,” said Greg Dunkley, Starrag Bumotec’s vice president of precision engineering.
BMGs have several material advantages over traditional steel, titanium, and aluminum metals and alloys. Amorphology’s patent portfolio includes several patents focused on high-precision gears for space and other extreme cold temperature applications. Amorphous metals are a non-crystalline class of alloys that cut and chip differently than other materials.
“The Bumotec s191H provides mill-turn capabilities as well as a higher production capacity,” Riley said. “Bumotec can take our alloys and machine single pieces. Or instead of machining one part at a time, it can produce hundreds of pieces lights-out.”
Amorphology’s gears are made for use in cobots, robots, and medical devices. For example, most cobots use strainwave gears — the main component being a flexspline. It is complex, thin-walled, and fulfills an important role — to precisely move the arm of the robot.
Many of the cobot, robot, and medical device parts can be cast or injected molded, but, at times, the micro-parts need to be post-processed to extremely high tolerances.
“Bumotec ‘cut its teeth’ in designing machines for the Swiss watch industry,” said Dunkley. “Bumotec has a talent for machining micro-size high-value gears.”
Riley believes the Bumotec s191H will make Amorphology’s own micro gearboxes without lubrication for robots and medical devices. “We will be machining our patented alloys to very small sizes where production quantities don’t require our injection molding process,” he said.