HLT improves accuracy for Nanoinstruments

Approved by Ken Teo 19 March 2009

HLT’s extensive manufacturing knowhow has helped University spinout Nanoinstruments to achieve cost effective precision manufacturing of complex ceramic components.

Hybrid Laser Tech (HLT) offers specialist precision cutting services and many of its clients are at the forefront of R&D. One of these companies is Nanoinstruments, which is now owned by German company AIXTRON, a leading manufacturer of equipment used to make LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).

Nanoinstruments, which was founded in 2005 by Ken Teo and Nalin Rupesinghe, makes chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and plasma-enhanced CVD research systems for nanomaterials (such as carbon nanotubes and nanowires) for emerging applications in electronics.

At the heart of Nanoinstruments’ technology is a patented reactor, which uses precision ceramic components manufactured by HLT.

Kevin Thompson, Sales & Technical Manager for HLT, said, “We have worked with the Nanoinstruments team since they were researchers at the University. Over the last six years, HLT has developed laser cutting of fragile ceramics for components that go into Nanoinstruments’ products.

“We started off cutting ceramic and aluminium parts, and then Nanoinstruments visited our premises and saw that we could do just about anything, so they started to request more help with developing new parts and determining what was physically possible in terms of turning ideas into reality.”

Thompson added, “The design ideas come from the customer, and we build on those ideas to decide how best to produce the part, with efficiencies in mind. And we do it very quickly – in the scientific arena everyone wants everything yesterday. As a specialised division we can offer a rapid turnaround on projects and often do same-day laser cutting for customers operating on tight deadlines.”

Dr Ken Teo, Director of Nanoinstruments, adds, “Visiting HLT opened up our eyes to a different way of manufacturing. Previously, we were using more traditional methods of machining and shaping complicated ceramic components, which were time consuming and often had imperfections such as chips or poor tolerances.

“The introduction of laser cutting into our manufacturing chain at first meant that we had to design things differently internally, namely from ‘3-D’ to ‘stacked 2-D’ – but this soon proved to be worthwhile because of the efficiency, accuracy and cost effectiveness of laser cutting.”

“Designs are provided electronically and the finished product looks exactly as it should. HLT reacts quickly to our evolving requirements, with extremely fast turnaround,” continued Dr Teo.“In fact, we are so convinced by this technique that we have asked HLT to cut other exotic materials that we use, and HLT have proven to be extremely responsive in developing cutting parameters; providing great results in terms of accuracy and finish.”