Seeking Expertise in the Manufacturing Technology of Ceramic Guide Rails for Precision Motion Systems

Background / Description

Motion systems are widely used in the engineering and manufacturing industries for automation and precision. Examples of such systems can be found in the manufacture of semiconductors, in inspection systems and others. An integral part of a precision motion system is the linear guideway system which consists of the carriage bearings that bear and guide the load, driven by the actuators, along a guide rail.

Typical of most bearing systems, surface-to-surface contact results in component wear, thereby limiting the lifetime of the parts. As such, the rails and bearings are usually manufactured out of material with high hardness such as tool steel to improve the component’s wear resistance. Material selection (e.g. grade of steel), manufacturing process and surface treatment (e.g. surface coating) are considerations for corrosion and wear resistance of the product.

The client, however, is seeking expertise well versed in the commercially ready and available manufacturing technology (from formulation to end product), of high hardness ceramic rails. The rail must not be susceptible to electromagnetic interference for its use in a specific application, and key performance parameters such as hardness, stiffness, surface smoothness and wear resistance, should be equivalent or better than the current material used to retain its performance throughout the lifetime of the product.

Technical Specifications

The client is currently seeking to produce a ceramic rail with the required specifications:

  • Up to 450 mm in length, 15 to 20 mm in thickness & width
  • Dimension tolerances of the track surface of +/- 5 µm
  • Minimum surface hardness of 58-62 HRC
  • Friction factor of 0.0005 to 0.0030 under normal operating conditions
  • To be used with clean room compatible lubrication
  • Product will be under a preload/pressure during operation

Other parameters which should be of concern would be the yield strength, tensile strength, Young’s modulus of elasticity and thermal expansion coefficient (to avoid mismatch between the metal and ceramic components).

The expert will have work closely together with the client to co-develop and establish the various process stages and parameters to manufacture the ceramic guide rail for the client’s application, not limited to:

  • Sourcing and formulation of recipe for ceramic rail
  • Mould design
  • Forming of the product – e.g. hot pressing, slip casting, gel casting etc.
  • Kilning/sintering of the product
  • Post processing of the product – e.g. Machining, surface lapping or impregnation etc.

The client is looking for solutions and technology, with the primary focus on the dimensional and geometrical precision, hardness, strength and ease of post processing of the product. Solutions should thus be cost effective and readily scalable. The client is willing to review opportunities from any geographical locations, as well as to explore all reasonable commercial agreements.

Preferred Business Model

  • R&D Collaboration
  • Licensing
  • IP Acquisition
  • Others

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