Micromachining Composites with Sand

Sand blasting and photolithography combine to enable fast machining of multiple, accurate features into composites.


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Photo-Machining seems well-suited for components such as blocker doors for jet engines
that require many small holes.
We’re always on the lookout for new, innovate and atypical ways to machine parts. Seems we found one with Photo-Machining.
Developed by Ikonics Micro Machining Solutions, Photo-Machining melds two existing technologies—sandblasting and photolithography—to enable fast machining of a lot of holes or features into various types of composite materials.
The process starts with the creation of a protective mask via photolithography with “windows” of all the features required for the part. Users simply email the feature pattern artwork to Ikonics, which, in turn, photo-processes the pattern to create the sandblast-resistant mask in a proprietary, photo-reactive film. After receiving the self-adhesive mask, the user applies it to the surface of the composite part and the features are created via sandblasting. After sandblasting, the mask is removed from the part to reveal the precisely machined features.

Learn more about this process.