July 13, 2001

MMED a one-stop shop for materials that matter

How do those fast-growth KDP crystals become transformed into high precision flat optics for NIF? When the Medical Technology Program needs precision micro-machined tubing to build their breast cancer-detecting Smart Probes, who do they call? Who diamond-turns myriad optics, from a few millimeters to more than 1-meter in diameter, for NASA, DoD and the Air Force’s Space-Based Laser? When a project team needs a set of custom-machined stainless steel pieces, and neoprene gaskets to fit them, and needed them yesterday, where can they go? If a Lab division needs parts manufactured from classified, radioactive or toxic materials, who can do that?

Manufacturing & Materials Engineering Division (MMED), the Lab’s on-site storehouse of top-of-the-line machinists, precision engineers, nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and materials engineers and state of the art equipment, regularly tackles these tricky projects.

"We are a world-class machine shop — and so much more," said MMED Division Leader Hugh Watling. "If you come to us with just an idea — just a scribble on a napkin, we can help you define it, assemble it, inspect it and test it. We can even work with outside vendors."

Watling said that MMED’s services are needed, and used, by nearly every program at the Lab, but that some may not realize just how extensive those services are. "We’re concerned some areas may be developing capabilities or doing work offsite when we can better meet those needs here. We want everyone to know just how many ways we can be of service."

MMED’s 250-employee roster claims the highest percentage of advanced degrees and the most senior engineering staff in all of Mechanical Engineering. "We have highly specialized engineers," Watling said, "national experts who are well known in their field, available for use on a very wide variety of engineering services."

The tip of MMED’s service iceberg includes:

• MMED’s large 200,000-square-foot complex, housing machining tools, ultra-precise diamond turning equipment, ovens to heat treat materials up to 900 degrees F and a freezer capable of –300 degrees F.

• A dimensional inspection facility capable of ultra-high accuracy measurements for quality control or full analysis of components and assemblies. In addition, metrology of machines and instruments is a division expertise.

• The water jet cutting machine, using 55,000 pounds per square inch and fine abrasive particles of garnet to cut precise parts through even two-inch thick stainless steel.

• The Laser Processing Center, which uses laser cutting, welding and etching on materials such as quartz, fused silica, plastics, carbon composites and various metals.

• The vacuum process center, which recently applied the Lab-designed durable silver coating to mirrors for several of the world’s major observatories.
• Consulting, to in-house groups or off-site vendors, on any stage of the fabrication process.

• NDE (ultrasonics, radiography, thermography) for large and small components of almost any material.

• Design and analysis of high-precision instruments and machines, including opto-mechanical systems. Often high-precision design techniques can be applied to conventional accuracy problems for huge efficiency gains.|

• Error analysis of machine or instrument designs, or actual hardware.

• Optics fabrication and process for small quantity or short turnaround and development.

Mike Prokosch, an MMED senior supervisor, explained the particular criteria Lab groups might use to understand when MMED is the best choice for their project. "We’re probably your best alternative choice if you need:

• Quick turnaround: ‘We needed it yesterday!’

• Limited product definition: ‘Something sort of like this.’

• Process development: ‘Can this even be done?’

• Unique capabilities: ‘Wow, that’s impressive!’

• Classified, radioactive or toxic materials: ‘Who else?’ "

In addition to design and fabrication, MMED also offers their expertise and equipment in the repair, overhaul, upgrade, moving and installation, or safety specification changes to machine tools and equipment.

Despite the myriad services MMED provides, Watling emphasizes that an off-site vendor is sometimes the preferable route. "If you have a good design, plenty of time and need mass production, an off-site vendor may the best way to go.

"Another part of our service is to be sure and tell our customers when we are not the best shop for the job."

To learn more about what MMED may be able to do for your program, several orientation options are available:

• Capabilities forum, Tuesday, July 17, 8:30 to 10 a.m., Bldg 543 auditorium. A detailed capabilities overview by MMED’s division leader and group leaders, open to all interested parties. For further information contact Garith Helm at 2-7784 or helm2 [at] llnl.gov.

• Recharge presentation, Aug. 14, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Bldg 321 Diamond room. Explains the MMED recharge system, expected FY02 rates, how MMED bills for services, and where the money goes. To schedule alternate times, contact Garith Helm at 2-7784 or helm2 [at] llnl.gov"> helm2 [at] llnl.gov .

• Tours, about two hours long, giving a hands-on look at the immense variety of MMED functions. To schedule, contact Mike Prokosch at 2-2029 or prokosch2 [at] llnl.gov"> prokosch2 [at] llnl.gov .

• MMED Website, at http://www-eng-r.llnl.gov/mmed/home.htm l. Details on many services, a feedback form, cost information and more.