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

Optimising Turbo-Spindle Efficiency for Machining at Ultra-High Speed (OpTEMUS) 2014 – 2017

Dr. Paul Harris, Prof. Prof. Stephen Spence (Queens University Belfast)
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.


  1. Paul Harris, Michael Wintterer, David Jasper, Barbara Linke, Christian Brecher, Stephen Spence, Design and Development of a High Efficiency Air Turbine Spindle for Small-Part Machining, International Journal of Precision Engineering and Manufacturing-Green Technology, accepted for publication on Sept. 3, 2018
  2. Harris, P.; Linke, B.; Spence, S.: An energy analysis of electric and pneumatic ultra-high speed machine tool spindles, Proceedings of the CIRP LCE 2015, Sydney, Australia, PROCIR-D-14-00557R2, DOI: 10.1016/j.procir.2015.02.046, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212827115000864
  3. Harris, P.; Linke, B.; Spence, S.: Design and Simulation of a Turbine-Spindle for Micro-Machining, 11th International Conference on Micro Manufacturing Orange County, California, USA, March 2016
  4. Linke, B.; Harris, P.; Zhang, M.: Development of Desktop Multipurpose Grinding Machine for Educational Purposes, 43rd Proceedings of the North American Manufacturing Research NAMRI/SME, Charlotte, NC, USA, June 2015
  5. Harris, P.; Linke, B.; Spence, S.: A Numerical Investigation of a Miniature Pneumatic Spindle Turbine, Proceedings of the ASME 2016 Symposium on Fluid Power and Motion Control, Bath, UK, September 07, 2016, doi: 10.1115/FPMC2016-1759
  6. Gruss, F.; Harris, P.; Jasper, D.; Linke, B.: Brecher, C.: An investigation of ultra-high speed spindle energy efficiency, Poster at the ASME 2016 Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC), June 27 – July 1, 2016, Blacksburg, VA

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