RUSNANO and Microbor Begin Producing Unique Metal-Cutting Instruments

(Nanowerk News) Microbor Nanotech, a RUSNANO-supported project company has commissioned its first line for cutting instruments of superhard material—cubic boron nitride nanopowder. NanoCNB is the second hardest known material after diamond. The company will produce instruments for roughing and finishing cuts for heavy industry: mechanical engineering, automobile construction, aviation, and mining, primary among them. Microhardness, durability, and heat resistance of nanoCNB make the instruments significantly more productive than their nearest competitors.
The goods that Microbor Nanotech produces will be sold in markets on four continents—in CIS countries, Europe, China, and the United States. The company forecasts that it will earn a 30 percent share in Russia's cubic nitride boron instrument market and export up to three million dollars in instruments per year by 2011.
The project company Microbor Nanotech was formed through an investment agreement signed in September 2009 by Microbor Technology, the parent company, and RUSNANO. Microbor Technology contributed 243 million rubles to owner's equity in the project company. For its part, RUSNANO invested 234 million rubles in owner's equity and extended a credit line of up to 440 million rubles for seven years. The project will cost 917 million rubles.
Over the past year, Microbor Nanotech acquired and installed state-of-the-art high-tech equipment from Agathon (Switzerland) and Peter Wolters and Nabertherm (Germany) at facilities belonging to the Russian research center Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. All the operations in the production of metal-cutting blades—synthesis of the powder, preparation of the composite, laser cutting, soldering, and polishing—will take place at one manufacturing facility, thereby reducing the technological cycle to only a few hours. This will permit the company to be more flexible in its approach to requests from customers. It will also facilitate control over the extremely high standards for the quality of products Microbor Nanotech will produce.
During the next stage of its work, the company plans to commission a second production line in Vladimir, Russia. With the Vladimir plant, Microbor Nanotech will increase production capacity tenfold, gain long-term leadership in the CIS market for CNB instruments, and increase exports to $15 million to $20 million per year by 2014.
Microbor Nanotech director Alexander Timofeev commented: "We are commissioning the most modern instrument production in Russia. Our grasp of the entire complex of know-how for each technological process stage and our state-of-the-art, high-production equipment will enable us to make goods of the highest quality and take a leading position in the CNB instrument market in Russia and the CIS. We are confident that we will be able to compete effectively in the international market."
"Modern mechanical engineering companies are showing considerable demand for materials that are difficult to process with traditional instruments. The unique instruments that Microbor Nanotech has created will effectively tool extremely strong, heat-resistant metals. We believe that the world's leading companies in mechanical engineering will want to purchase its products," said RUSNANO managing director Alexander Kondrashov.
The technology
CNB, cubic nitride boron, is one of the class of superhard materials, only some 20 percent to 40 percent less hard than diamond. While taking second place to diamond in hardness, CNB outshines the gem in other important areas: The composites are nonreactive to carbon, making it possible to tool the iron and steel that make up 90 percent of the material mechanical engineering uses. In contrast, diamond reacts with carbon, one of its components, limiting its use. Instruments made of nanoCNB can cut metal that could not be cut earlier. For example, all cobalt and tungsten carbide alloys could be processed only through grinding; not a single instrument could cut it. Tools manufactured from the nanomaterial in this new production are superhard and superstrong simultaneously.
About Microbor Technology
Microbor Technology is the only producer of metal-cutting tools of cubic nitride boron in Russia and the country's technological leader in instrument materials for the metal-working industry. The company has produced superhard cutting instruments since 2000. In 2004 Microbor Technology started commercial production of cutting instruments for processing tempered and heatproof steel, cold pig iron, and other extremely durable metals. In 2009 the company signed an investment agreement with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies to establish mass production of nanoCNB cutting instruments. In 2010 the company commissioned its first line of redesigned production under the joint project.
Source: Rusnano (press release)
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