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Ultrasonic drilling


I'm a technician at Princeton University, and my lab is using quartz and silicon microchips as part of our research. To make reservoirs in our chips, we currently just sand blast the hopes. However, we were hoping to upgrade to something cleaner, more accurate, and more efficient.

Ultrasonic drilling seems like a viable alternative, but I haven't been able to find much information online. We are looking to create holes around 1mm in diameter.

Do you know if it is possible to buy a simple ultrasonic drill for this purpose? If so, where? And how expensive would it be? Do you think that ultrasonic drilling would be the way to go? I also have heard that simply using a diamond drill bit on a milling machine might work just fine. Thanks for your help,


Hi Eric,

I'd suggest trying the diamond drill bit first - if that does the job it will be much cheaper than an ultrasonic system (reckon on at least two or three thousand dollars). Ultrasonic machining allows the drill bit to be softer than the workpiece (eg. mild steel drilling into diamond) because it's the broken fragments of workpiece material embedded in the tool that do the work. Potentially that means cheaper tooling costs, so if you were doing a lot of machining then maybe the economics could favour it, but for small quantities probably not (and then there are also diamond coating techniques that could reduce the cost of diamond tools).

If you find that diamond drills don't work for you or you just want to investigate ultrasonic machining further there are some suppliers in my database offering it as a service, which would save you the up front equipment costs. I'm don't know about buying the equipment but I'm sure they would:

Hope that helps. If there's anything I can help you with pls let me know.

Chris Cheers

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the advice. It does seem like using ultrasonic equipment might be more than we need. I'll look into things a bit further, but we probably will just stick with the diamond drill.

Again, I appreciate the help.

Take care,