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Development of Smart Drilling Spindle Systems

Funding body

Innovate UK

Co-investigator: Kai Cheng

Co-investigator: Dr Richard Rokowski


Project description

This challenging and complex project is a partnership between GSI Group Limited (Westwind Air Bearings Division) and Brunel University to deliver a smart solution for the PCB drilling industry to take PCB drilling performance and cost to new levels. The project will focus on developing a smart tool holding device and smart spindle system for PCB drilling operations aiming at next generation production systems. The distinctive objectives of the project will be achieved through the following three stages as planned:

Stage1 – Tool Holding Device and System

The objective of stage 1 is to deliver the design for a smart tool holder which Westwind can manufacture and sell as a product with reduce complexity (space, mass, need for sub-systems). This will require investigating the ideal specification for tool holder design/operation and to test prototypes at high rotational speeds. The tool holder design will have the potential for sensor embedment to give customers in-situ feedback for subsequent smart drilling processes.

Stage 2 – Smart Spindle System

The objective of stage 2 is to understand force feedback characteristics and the design of a sensor system (around the spindle) leading to reliable torsional, radial and axial force measurements. This understanding will lead to the ability to design and manufacture sensor systems for PCB air-bearing spindles.

Stage 2 further comprises the objective of critically evaluating the operation of the sensing system using simulation models to determine/optimise spindle design against specification (quality of measurement during service).

Stage 3 – Smart Drilling

The objective of Stage 3 is to develop early adoption of the smart drilling product by optimising the smart drilling characteristics for PCB drilling. This will be achieved by (i) initiating internal demonstration trials and (ii) beta testing with customer specified PCB drilling applications.                

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