Yuko Akabane
TDC Corporation
Mar. 5, 2019
Yuko Akabane
TDC Corporation

A “Last Resort in Polishing” that continues to strive for nano-level precision


Samples of TDC’s polishing processes: 
achieving precision of surface roughness Ra 1 nm, flatness 30 nm, angle ± 3°, and sphericity 50 nm

With Nowhere Else to Go, the Customers Turn to TDC

TDC Corporation achieves that highly-demanding level of precision with accumulated know-how for polishing processes, achieving acclaim from our clients from Japan and around the globe.

“I want it polished to these specifications, but no one will do it for me.” 

Many of the polishing jobs TDC receives sound like this, as though people are bringing their requests to the last resort. In most cases, processing companies are unable to match the precision required by the customer, and with nowhere else to go, they turn to TDC.

The high level of our polishing process technology is evident from our track record. For example, the metal foil used in flexible devices requires that surface roughness be as low as possible so the device can be installed onto it.

Nano-order polished cylinder. TDC can realize flaw-free surface condition which is very efficient for mold of nano-imprint

It is a nearly impossible task to polish metal foil, which is only about 50 μm thick to begin with. This delicate metal foil, which will crease if not handled properly, can be polished by TDC in lengths of 100 m of material to a surface roughness of Ra 1 nm.

Additionally, TDC does surface processing of cylindrical molds used for nano-imprinting, a technology for transferring microscopic patterns that has garnered much attention. When creating a nano-level pattern, of course the mold to which the pattern is transferred has to be smooth down to the nano-level. We are up to the task, achieving surface roughness of Ra 1.5 nm on a 3 m-long cylinder.

TDC is unique for bringing its highly precise polishing processes not only to metals, but other materials including ceramics, crystals, and resins, among others. Each time a different material and shape is brought in, the lapping plates as well as many small settings have to be changed. 

Our accumulated know-how allows us to make the minute adjustments to each material, thereby increasing their clients’ options for materials.

If Existing Equipment Doesn’t Suffice, We Develop Our Own

One reason TDC could establish the advanced polishing process technology is that we internally manufacture our own machines and equipment in our factory. In most cases, the level of precision we aim for is so high that it cannot be reached with existing equipment used as-is. 

Although at first it began with modifying equipment out of necessity, now more than half of our 100 lapping machines were developed in-house. 

Through trial and error, we have continued to modify equipment for ever-higher precision, the result of which is that our technicians know the make-up of their machines inside and out.

Nano-level polishing cannot be achieved without an environment equipped for nano-level testing. 
TDC uses atomic force microscopes (AFM) and other state-of-the-art equipment to perform quality assurance.

In addition to modifying machines, TDC also creates own chucks and jigs suited to the work pieces. We do also invest a lot in a testing environment which can accurately measure high-precision processing. 

Processing technology and measurement technology come as a pair. When giving a quote to a client, we explain our testing environment to them, which gives them peace of mind.

As clients’ requirements for precision continue to climb ever higher, however, even TDC receives difficult requests to which we cannot immediately reply “We can do it.” Nevertheless, the company’s stance is: “We do not simply respond ‘We can’t do it,’ but rather, we search for a way to fulfill the request, even if it takes years, with joint research with universities.” In some cases, we propose reconsidering the tolerances, shape, or material as we seek the ideal manufacturing process together with our clients.

These efforts have been highly regarded, as the company was selected in 2014 for the Top 100 Global Niche Companies by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

TDC often develops original machine for customer’s special order. TDC realized the polishing process of thin foil by the original foil polishing equipment. This equipment has the capability to polish foil with 50 micro-metre thickness and 100 meter length in coils.