Microsoft R&D Lab Using Datron High Speed Milling Machines For Rapid Prototyping

by | Apr 10, 2015 | Blog | 0 comments

10 min read

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Panos Panay, says, “This is like a big toy factory” when speaking about their R&D operation in Redmond, WA. This state-of-the-art facility, along with the many DATRON high-speed CNC machining centers there, was recently featured by CNN in a piece called “Inside Microsoft’s secret design lab”. Like a kid in a candy store Panay continues, “You can spend days and weeks and build anything on the planet in this building!”

Microsoft R&D lab machining thin aluminum housings using DATRON high speed CNC milling machines.

Microsoft R&D lab using DATRON high speed machining center for milling thin aluminum housings.

Indeed, Microsoft has amassed the world’s leading technology under one roof and the possibilities are endless. Many of the products and devices that we’ve all grown to love and depend on were developed in this building. More importantly the future of commercial electronics will be born here.

Panay is the man behind Microsoft’s Surface, and when commenting on the competitive landscape he says, “You know, we have a very deep set of competitors right now. We’re not sitting on our heels, we need to go forward every day. We can’t fall behind and the way to do it is you build a product, you test. If it fails you build it again. This is awesome right? You learn right away. Iterate, every hour or couple of hours, you can put something in overnight … you can find success and boom! Right there, you’ve failed and succeeded in almost the same set of 8 hours and now you have a solution that works for your customers.”

This is perhaps, the truest spirit of Microsoft R&D, and the equipment in their lab is akin to an artist’s paintbrush, allowing them to embody and emote this spirit in an efficient and meaningful way that can impact the daily lives of millions of consumers. Commenting on rapid prototyping, Panay says, “It happens quickly and it happens in a way that you get the true feel of the product. That’s so important. To really know what your customers are going to use and love you have to feel it.”

DATRON is proud to have consulted with this Microsoft R&D lab regarding the best suited high speed milling equipment for this type of rapid prototyping. What can be seen in the video, is a lineup of DATRON M8 and M8Cube high-speed CNC milling machines that are particularly efficient in milling aluminum parts with superior surface and edge finishes. The quality of surface and edge finish is of paramount importance when evaluating attributes like “feel” discussed by Panay in the video.

Microsoft R&D lab in Redmond, WA using DATRON high speed CNC milling machines for the rapid prototyping of consumer electronics parts including these aluminum housings for Surface3.

Microsoft R&D Lab rapid prototyping aluminum housings for Surface 3.

Bloomberg broadcasted a different video last year of the Microsoft R&D lab that was titled “Inside Microsoft’s Secret Surface Labs”. In this video, the narrator refers to the DATRON M8 as a “magnesium slicing milling machine” and Panay, who appears in this video as well points out, “You’re starting to see that same billet back there come to life right here … and this is our model shop.” The “Surface” story in this video is very much about the tenacity of Microsoft R&D. In fact, it suggests that the initial launch of the Surface in 2012 was less than successful and that iterations of the design have resulted in the product quietly gaining ground.

Brett Ostrum, Surface Development General Manager at Microsoft says, “Thinner and lighter, thinner and lighter, thinner and lighter. Grams, tens of grams are a huge currency for us.” As consumer electronics get smaller, the machines used to develop them have to be able to make tiny parts often featuring thin features, thin walls and other intricate features. This is where DATRON high speed machining centers excel because they were engineered from the ground up around a high speed spindle and for the sole purpose of high speed machining.

About DATRON

High-Speed CNC machining is more than 60,000 RPM spindle-speed. When you’re making small or complex parts, you need speed and precision at every stage. DATRON AG engineers didn’t just invent a faster, more precise CNC machine. They re-interpreted and optimized your entire machining workflow from start to finish.

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Did you know that we also manufacture our own cutting tools? Ground from micro-grain carbide, DATRON tools feature polished edges that provide longer life, burr-free machining, and superior finishes. See how our tools are made check out the new tool store. https://bit.ly/2ZpSLqu

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Many machinists are concerned that an evaporative mist coolant will result in significant interference from chips. Learn how a MicroJet system uses pressurized air and coolant to alleviate this concern by producing dry chips that are easier to remove. https://bit.ly/2Vv1Eh2

“Credit where credit is due, the team that DATRON assembled was way different than the teams at some other companies. At a different company, we ended up with a salesman who talked only about specs.” — Marc Fournier, Design Engineer, R&D Manufacturing. https://bit.ly/3mCguxY

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“I haven’t personally programmed a CNC mill or written a program for 22 years, and I was able to use this machine right away. The integrated probe and camera for part location makes it incredibly easy to set up a job & operate." Paul Strippelhoff https://bit.ly/2RtUuH8

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DATRON is proud to announce that you can now browse and order from our extensive catalog of in-stock CNC cutting tools online! Click the link to check out the high quality micro-grain carbide tools in our NEW TOOL STORE today. https://bit.ly/2ZpSLqu

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Looking to work with high speed CNC milling machines? DATRON Dynamics, Inc is looking for a self-motivated, detail-oriented Field Service Technician to join our growing teams at our offices in Milford, NH and Livermore, CA. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3l6ZEGN

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