This technical information has been contributed by
Newcut, Inc.

Photochemical Machining Company Not Afraid to Take on Tough Aerospace Jobs

Photochemical Machining

NEWARK, N.Y.--Aerospace and aviation OEMs aren't known for accepting second best when it comes to component quality. In fact, nothing less than perfection is acceptable. Newcut, Inc. of Newark, New York--situated between Rochester and Syracuse--is a contract manufacturer that takes this high level of quality very seriously as a supplier to the aerospace industry. The photochemical machining company specializes in tight tolerance, complex parts that some of its competitors might shy away from completely.

"We have the reputation in our industry for taking on the toughest jobs," maintains Peter Engel, the engineering manager at Newcut. "Some of our competitors even refer their customers to us. A lot of the commercial work we do is fine if it looks good. But the aerospace companies usually have tighter tolerance requirements because of the critical nature of the parts. If the parts are going into outer space, they don't want to take any chances, so the parts have to be built to exact specifications."

Since 1970, Newcut has performed photochemical machining to create thin metal parts from aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and a variety of other common and exotic metals. These include many different types of steels, as well as soft magnetic alloys, high permeability alloys, and controlled expansion alloys, in thicknesses from 0.0005 inch to 0.125 inch. "We have the ability to hold tight tolerances," Engel continues. "The tolerances that we can hold are dependent on the material and its thickness, but a general rule is +/- 10% of the material thickness. We can make complex geometries, which is where we are most competitive against processes like laser cutting or water jet."

The advantages of the photochemical process, Engel points out, are that it doesn't create any burrs or stresses on the metal, and doesn't change the properties of the metal, either. Tooling costs are minimal, usually in the hundreds of dollars, instead of thousands or tens of thousands for other processes.

In describing the process of photochemical machining, Engel said that the company will first take a sheet of metal, and then generate a computer file of the part and plot it on a piece of film. "For small parts, we will do multiples on sheet by ganging them together," he points out. "We coat the metal with a light sensitive coating, and then lay the film down on top of the metal. We then expose the metal to a light source to print the image onto the material. After that, we run it through a developing solution, which washes away the areas that you want to cut, and then we subject the part to an acid bath. The acid will dissolve the exposed metal and leave behind the material that's protected by the photo resist."

The company creates a variety of high-tech parts that include shields, screens, filters, springs, and electrical contacts for aerospace and aviation companies. "One of the nicest parts we've made for an aerospace company was a shield that looks like a giant coffee filter," Engel recalls proudly. "It was a big, three-piece, stainless steel assembly that's laser welded together, and it had a very fine screen pattern on it," he added. "It goes into a satellite propulsion system that propels the satellite after it leaves the rocket in outer space."

One of the best things that Newcut can offer by manufacturing parts in the U.S., Engel says, is fast domestic turnarounds. "We have engineers on hand to help solve our customers' needs, and we are ITAR registered for defense work," he discloses. "Our standard turnaround is two to three weeks, but sometimes we even get parts to our customers overnight. So we will take on rush jobs."

Newcut's engineering manager insists that the best way to help a customer is upfront--with design and engineering assistance--before manufacturing commences. "We have two engineers on staff and we've been around for 40 years, so we can offer customers a lot of experience in this field," Engel says.

This technical information has been contributed by
Newcut, Inc.

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