Voxel's Current Projects: August 2019 Edition
Updated: Mar 25
At Voxel, we strive to enable new and creative designs by thinking outside of the box and applying the electrochemical machining (ECM) process in unique ways. This process enables the creation of features that would otherwise be difficult or impossible and allows for the use of new materials. Our work typically consists of a mix of commercial applications, as well as contract R&D to push the boundaries of what is feasible.
Currently, we are actively working on four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants simultaneously. These include research and development efforts for the following organizations:
Office of Naval Research - The solicitation requested developing a post-processing technique for additively manufactured parts to generate a consistent finish, improve fatigue life, and maintain or enhance material properties. Voxel proposed a custom proprietary variation of electrochemical machining for this application as it inherently produces very smooth surface finishes, is a heat-free and stress-free process, and is less restricted by line of sight applications like many manufacturing techniques.
Air Force - The solicitation was for a method to reduce capital and/or operating costs for electrochemical machining. The Air Force has realized the benefits of this manufacturing process, but desires a more cost effective path to application especially for lower volume parts. Voxel Innovations proposed a solution to leverage the capabilities and advantages of additive manufacturing to reduce tooling costs associated with process development time for ECM. Typically many iterations are required to perfect the tooling shape which requires design, fabrication, and testing. Voxel is actively conducting research and simulations to improve this design cycle and will ultimately showcase the technique by manufacturing a representative part from an Air Force supplier.
Air Force - Technology and research is continually advancing the capabilities and designs of supersonic-combustion ramjet (or scramjet) engines, but a method of robustly fabricating the designs is still required. Voxel Innovations proposed a unique solution to combine pulsed electrochemical machining with diffusion bonding to manufacture scramjet engine combustor sections. We believe that the proposed route will not only be faster in production, but also provide a more reliable method with fewer scrapped parts. Voxel is conducting initial studies into the combination of the two aforementioned technologies to produce a small-scale test panel that will be tested in a hot fire chamber.
NASA - Our current work is targeted to meet NASA's focus area for in-space and advanced manufacturing. Voxel's proposal calls for the development of PECM capabilities to accurately manufacture thin-walled components made from bulk metallic glass (BMGs). BMG is a class of amorphous metal material that has gained popularity of the past two decades and is well-known for its unique combination of hardness, strength, and elasticity. Current machining techniques of BMG's fall short due to the inability to produce thin features, the difficulties of machining amorphous BMGs, or the inducement of thermal stresses that effect the material properties. Voxel has already proven that the BMG's can readily be machined with electrochemical machining, but is pursuing methods for draft removal, formation of thin-walled features, and creation of gear components.
If you have a unique application or problem that you think may be a good fit for electrochemical machining, please feel free to reach out. We would be happy to review your application and provide feedback.