Optimising Turbo-Spindle Efficiency for Machining at Ultra-High Speed

Optimising Turbo-Spindle Efficiency for Machining at Ultra-High Speed (OpTEMUS)

Dr. Paul Harris, Prof. Prof. Stephen Spence (Queens University Belfast)
MS student Michael Taylor, Prof. Barbara Linke (UC Davis)
Funding Body: EU Research Executive Agency (Marie Curie IOF)

There is a growing demand for ultra-high speed precision machine tool spindles to create complex miniature devices and features in a variety of materials, in consumer markets such as medical devices, electronics and communications. Air turbine spindles are a key enabling technology for micro-scale mechanical machining due to their high speed, high power-to-weight and volume ratios, low friction, low vibration and low thermal deformation characteristics. However, a major drawback of pneumatic technology in general is its low energy efficiency, with subsequent negative implications for operational costs and environmental impact. However to date, there has been little in depth analysis of commercial/state-of-art turbo-spindle performance, and initial estimates indicate low efficiency, in particular in comparison to established turbomachinery applications e.g. turbochargers.  This research project therefore aims to better understand the overall life cycle impact of high speed turbo-spindle technology with a view to further exploring optimization approaches/methods, in particular opportunities for increasing spindle and machine tool energy efficiency.


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