Factory for Micro Production

Micro manufacturing technologies

Micro manufacturing technologies (MMT) are widely recognized as key enabling technologies to address the ‘grand challenges' of the 21st century society, facilitating new innovative products and systems and impacting across a broad range of application areas, where the current international economic situation intensifies the risks posed by increasing energy costs, depleting resources, and employment. The ultimate benefit is to improve yet affordable health care, higher standards of living, quality consumer goods, addressing the 3 interlinked priorities identified by the EU strategy Europe 2020, promoting a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. To allow the European industry to maintain a leading role in the dramatically increasing global market of micro and nano technologies based products and services, new compensatory measures are required. It is necessary to emphasize the aspects which make the difference in European production such as quality, knowledge intensive production and reliability in the results. One of the key factors to succeed against the competition from low wage countries is the effort to design and manufacture complex and highly functional miniaturised multi-material parts/components capitalising on the latest technological developments in micro and nano manufacturing technologies, along the whole process chain. MMT impact across a broad range of application areas.

Innovative MMT solutions The trends towards personalised health care, minimal invasive surgery, and care in the community for an aging population will all be supported by MMT solutions. Across other application areas such as mobility, homeland security and energy storage conversion will be key to further innovative products and has the potential to bring paradigm shifts to production processes. Innovative MMT already reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal, etc.) and raw materials (coatings, rare earth materials, etc.) and consequently reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the concentration of nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide in the atmosphere. In the mid to long term, advanced MMT will lower energy consumption and reduce the use of resources; and will enable a further reduction of energy consumption in a lot of their application areas. They will also lead to the use of less materials and reduced waste due to the use of additive processes as opposed to material removal processes to obtain the final product.
For micro production as well as micro assembly capabilities In this context, STIIMA has been developing its own concept of Factory for micro production, that includes: micro manufacturing as well as micro assembly capabilities.
The micro-manufacturing section addresses technologies for precision and micro manufacturing, such as micro EDM and replication micro technologies, such as micro injection moulding. The polymeric materials are compounded with nano powders (such as nano clay and nano fillers) using a dedicated micro twin extruder. The lab is equipped with state of the art machines, such as: SARIX SX_200 for EDM, Desma-TEC Formica 1K injection moulding machine, Labtech Engineering LTE16-40 twin extruder (16 mm), Zeiss Discovery V20 stereomicroscopy and Axio CSM 700 confocal 3D microscopy.
Also the assembly phase, that is affecting the total cost of the final product up to a 60% of the whole production process, is addressed. A dedicated work-cell for micro manipulation and assembly is available with a set of micro grippers exploiting different physical principles (adhesive effects, such as electrostatic force and capillary force, vacuum, mechanical tweezers). The work-cell is equipped with a Mitsubishi Electric RP-1AH robot (workspace: 150 mm x105 mm x 30 mm - vertical stroke, repeatability: ±5 microns in the x-y plane, ±10 microns for the vertical motion and ±0.02° for the end-effector rotation ) and a proper vision system with cameras (Allied GC2450 and Allied GC1380H) and lens.

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