US-based company Sunlight-Tech has increased its capacity and expanded its area of business thanks to GF Machining Solutions' Microlution machines.
Sunlight-Tech, Inc. is an Engineering Design, Consulting, Automation and Robotics Integrator, and Femtosecond Laser Contract Manufacturer Company based in Mokena, IL (United States). It specializes in high-quality project management, product design, drafting and manufacturing services.
The 22-person shop started in 2010 as an engineering consultancy focused on designing machinery and automation. In 2018, Sunlight-Tech decided to expand beyond consultancy and diversify into micro-laser and micro-milling machining. As a result, it now serves a wide array of sectors that include the automotive, food, consumer goods, aerospace and defense, electronics, communications, the watch industry and the medical industry. The primary business of Sunlight-Tech is automation and machining design as well as CNC services.
Precise tooling with Microlution solutions
The company has two laser machines and one micro-milling machine from GF Machining Solutions in their 15,000 square feet (1393 square meters) shop. Thanks to the Microlution machines, the company was able to increase its capacity, giving it the possibility to expand into different business areas. They take advantage of the Microlution 5100 to make very precise tooling that is required to mold parts accurately.
The relationship of Sunlight-Tech with GF Machining Solutions goes back ten years. Grzegorz (Greg) Nowobilski says, “When we acquired the ML-5 microlaser machine, application engineers helped me develop jobs or learn new processes. They were very helpful.” He sees the collaboration as a synergy between Sunlight-Tech and GF Machining Solutions.
"After only a few weeks, we understood the laser parameters and how they needed to change to generate specific part shapes and features.”
“A key factor of effective laser machining is determining the correct laser parameters,” said Nowobilski. The support from the GF Machining Solutions’ applications engineering team, who helped to determine the parameters, combined with their previous laser experience, allowed Sunlight-Tech to quickly get up to speed in programming the Microlution machines. “After only a few weeks, we understood the laser parameters and how they needed to change to generate specific part shapes and features”, says Nowobilski.
“A key factor of effective laser machining is determining the correct laser parameters"
Highly precise parts, made possible with five-axis micro-milling
Most job shops would consider part tolerances of 7.62 micron (0.0003”) to 12.7 micron (0.0005”) to be tight. At Sunlight-Tech Inc. however, a routine job can involve exacting tolerances tighter than one micron (0.001 mm, 0.00003937”), which are often impossible to achieve with conventional CNC machining or even Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM). In addition, many of the shop’s parts are extremely tiny or require miniscule, intricate features. According to Nowobilski, such work is only achieved with laser micromachining and micro-milling technology on machines that can move just as precisely as the submicron part tolerances the shop needs to hold.
With its laser micromachining capabilities, Sunlight-Tech fulfills customer job requirements like generating 3,200 holes, each 254 microns (0.01'') in diameter at a 11:1 depth to diameter ratio, or producing features that are square at the top and round at the bottom with positive or negative tapers, along with other kinds of cavities and blind features. It also uses its laser technology for those parts that must not be contaminated or come in contact with foreign materials, a common risk during conventional milling operations involving cutting tools.
On the micro-milling side, Sunlight-Tech’s Microlution 5100 Micro Milling Center gives the shop the ability to produce highly precise parts with complex geometries possible only by using the high-speed five-axis micro-milling technology. With its ±1 μm (±0.00004”) positioning accuracy, the high-performance, vertical bridge-style linear-motor machining center is well suited for Sunlight-Tech’s high precision, small-part applications.
“With the ML-5 five-axis machine, we can move in whichever direction to adapt to the types of holes or to the types of cuts that are needed”
Application Engineer Kelsey Humble says, “The advantage that our GF Machining Solutions (ML-5 five-axis) machine has over some other laser machines is that the head allows for a five-axis laser. So, we can move in whichever direction to adapt to the types of holes or to the types of cuts that are needed for that application.”