Illustration of the size of an ISLE-manufactured micro gear wheel.
Picture Source: Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen/Volker Lannert
Take the example of the clock- and watchmaking industry, where so-called jewel bearings have to be precisely manufactured and subsequently mounted. At present, experienced specialists manually produce and mount these micro components by means of grinding and polishing, which takes a lot of time. Moreover, ablative techniques always entail a loss of material –typically as high as 80% – which can seriously impact costs depending on the specific material.Given the tiny scale of micro components, transparent, i.e. “colorless”, materials are not amenable to manual processing, as the craftsman cannot see them well enough. Consequently, manufacturers revert to using rubies, which in addition to their hardness also have the advantage of being a red color that is easily visible.
Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer ILT
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