Machining with snow

April 14, 2005
Engineers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a method of machining metals that uses ice-cold carbon dioxide to remove cuttings while cooling and lubricating the workpiece.

Dubbed Snow-Machining, it could eliminate the need for oil-based and synthetic fluids currently used in the cutting and metal-parts cleaning industries. Experts at the University of Michigan estimate over 200 million gallons of metalworking oils are used annually in the U.S., and the amount of cutting fluid is at least several times that figure.

The technique, which was devised to improve dry machining for nuclear weapons, shoots micron-sized particles of CO2 ice. The particles are created through adiabatic expansion as liquid carbon dioxide squeezes through a 0.012-in.-diameter nozzle. Carbon dioxide is inexpensive, nonflammable, and recyclable, making it far better than currently used oils and fluids. And Snow-Machining has already proven to give better surface finishes and extend the life of cutting tools.

National Instruments
has acquired Toronto-based Electronics Workbench, a supplier of electronics design-automation software.

NuSil Technology has a definitive agreement to acquire certain assets related to the ingestible Simethicone business of GE Advanced Materials-Silicones. When the transaction is completed, NuSil will begin manufacturing Simethicone USP, Simethicone GS, and Simethicone Emulsion USP, three key products used in ingestible applications.

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