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MECT 2023 – “Jewel box” of micromachining technology, lifelike insects by JP Cubic cutting

October 13, 2023

MECHATRONICS TECHNOLOGY JAPAN (MECT) 2023’s special program by the organizer (Concept Zone), themed “Machining Extraordinaire,” features three unique machining technologies. Jp Cubic (Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture; President: Masahiko Ito), which has expertise in micro-precision machining of plastic parts, presents a demonstration of machining acrylic insect replicas, which are considered to be extremely difficult to machine. At MECT 2023, Jp Cubic plans to demonstrate its micromachining capabilities by cutting complex-shaped acrylic workpieces to transparency. “We have incorporated all the elements necessary for micromachining. The exhibit is indeed like a jewel box of technology ,‘” says President Ito. 

Beautiful, transparent and lifelike replicas 

Stunningly beautiful, transparent, and lifelike insects made of acrylic… 

ROKU-ROKU SMART TECHNOLOGY’s “Android II” precision micro machining center on display in the Concept Zone

In the Concept Zone of MECT2023, a diorama decorated with insect replicas made of transparent acrylic is on display, offering visitors a close-up view of forest-like decorations and realistic insects. This is a departure from traditional machine tool trade shows, which have a strong image of ruggedness, and is sure to attract the attention of many visitors. 

These insects were created by Jp Cubic, a company with “extraordinary” machining techniques in micro-precision machining of plastic parts. President Ito emphasizes, “All the elements necessary for micromachining, such as high precision, mirror-like surface, transparency, and burr-free, are incorporated in the insect replicas. This is truly like a ‘jewel box of technology'”. 

The “Android II” precision micro machining center from ROKU-ROKU SMART TECHNOLOGY (Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Yusuke Yano) is also set up at the venue, and machining demonstrations of some insect replicas are to be held. The insect replicas to be machined are three types in all: a spider’s web so delicate that it seems to break at the slightest touch; a spider and a stag beetle in which every detail, including the antennae and claws, has been faithfully reproduced. Demonstrations of spider nests and spiders are scheduled for the first and third days of the exhibition, and demonstrations of stag beetle processing are scheduled for the second and fourth days. 

All machining and clamping technologies are demonstrated 

According to President Ito, insects are complex in shape, and high processing technology is required to reproduce them faithfully down to the smallest detail. Furthermore, “the use of acrylic as a material makes processing even more difficult,” he says. 

Acrylic is a brittle material that breaks and chips easily. It also easily loses its clarity due to the frictional heat generated during the cutting process, requiring a polishing process to achieve transparency. 

Jp Cubic’s insect replicas are very small, with a spider measuring 13.9mm long and 3.9mm wide, and a stag beetle measuring 36.5mm long, 12.6mm wide, and 6.2mm thick. In addition, there are many thin parts such as antennae and claws that are physically impossible to polish. Deburring is also difficult for the same reason, so transparency and burr-free machining can only be achieved by cutting. “To achieve transparency, it is important to minimize cutting resistance, so we carefully designed the cutting conditions. Even though acrylic is one of the most difficult plastic materials to machine, we hope to demonstrate our micromachining technology that enables us to achieve this transparency in such a complex shape by cutting alone,” says Mr. Ito enthusiastically. 

Of the three types of machining demonstrations to be held in the Concept Zone, the most difficult is the spider’s nest. The diameter of the thread is only 0.1 mm, and it is cut from an acrylic sheet. Since the workpiece is extremely thin and fine, not only machining techniques but also clamping techniques are strictly required. 

All of these technologies are fully demonstrated at the exhibition. President Ito is confident that “the fixture is simple, but it requires considerable skill to fully utilize it, so it is not so easy to copy.” 

Something everyone can imagine 

A replica of a stag beetle, faithfully reproduced down to the smallest detail, is also on display (image).

Established in 2005, Jp Cubic is mainly engaged in micro-precision machining of high-precision plastic parts and functional parts. In order to sharpen its technical capabilities, the company has been actively taking on difficult projects that competitors cannot handle, as well as R&D-type prototyping projects. The company is also eager to advance its in-house machining technology, and the launch of a project to create insect replicas is part of this effort. Starting with a spider’s nest several years ago, they have expanded the variety of insect replicas to include spiders, stag beetles, butterflies, and others. 

To promote its technology to various industries, the company exhibits at trade shows several times a year. The main strategy is to introduce samples filled with technical and other elements at their booth to attract the interest of visitors from these industries, leading to the development of new business. 

The insect replicas to be exhibited at MECT2023 are a prime example of this strategy. President Ito explains, “When we exhibit parts used in a specific industry, only people related to that industry can understand our technical strengths and greatness, but with insects, it is easy for anyone to visualize and be interested in what they are seeing. We have chosen insects, which are familiar to many people, as the subject of our samples to communicate our strengths and excellence to a wider range of industries”. 

SEISANZAI Japan editorial team 


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