Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

HINMICO Report Summary

Project ID: 609110
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: Spain

Final Report Summary - HINMICO (High throughput integrated technologies for multimaterial functional Micro Components)

Executive Summary:
HINMICO Project has been mainly focused in the development of high-throughput process chains based on mass-production micro-manufacturing technologies of polymer based microproducts (micro-injection molding, overmoulding) by the integration/implementation of advance complementary technologies (advance mould-manufacturing, inspection, manipulation, etc.) along with back-end/finishing processes.

The main interest relies in covering the existing gaps for the increasing trend towards miniaturization in many sectors of the European industry detected in recent years, becoming the proposed solutions/developments in the project an economic and technological key factor ( enhanced productivity level, cost reduction, better quality in the produced components, etc.), which could suppose an extraordinary business opportunity for the involved SMEs with an expected turnover increase of various M€ in their corresponding applications in the next five years after finishing the project.

The strategy proposed in the project to address the above mentioned gaps is grounded on offering solutions to five different end user´s cases provided by some of the SMEs involved in the project. These end user´s cases/demonstrators, apart from being of interest for the SMEs ( as current existing products, and enhanced versions of this existing products or a completely new ones ), should be representative of the challenges of the State of the Art in microfabrication. To provide a solution for the on these products, HINMICO project bases its RTD methodology in a step-by-step approach adopted to minimize, as far as possible, integration issues and resolve any deviations in the integration by a collaborative effort between the responsible groups of each process stages.

The required developments to achieve and make viable the above mentioned solutions implies an important investment in the shape of a total budget for the HINMICO project of around 5,5M€ (with a grant representing 70% of the total budget) with a distribution per type of activity as follows: Research and Innovation represent 74% of the project budget, as corresponds to a project of this nature, Demonstration activities represent 17 % of the project budget, as one of the major objectives of the project is to establish process chains for 5 demonstrators and Management and Other activities represent the 9%.

As previously mentioned, the SME partners will be benefited for their involvement in the project through, in some cases, an increased productivity, an improved and more cost-effective solution for their product of interest. All of this will translate into important economical results for the SMEs with a general increase of the unit sales (30-50%), a reduction of the production costs (10-15 %) and unitary price reduction potential (10-15%), which will suppose a total turnover of 20-30% recovering the investment in the frame of 4-6 years after the product goes to the market (depending on the product).

Project Context and Objectives:
In the last decade the number of applications of micro components has increased steadily. Mass fabricated products either in the form of micro three-dimensional parts or for larger components with micro/sub-micro structured surfaces have been developed, produced and implemented into many products in different sectors. Due to these major developments, polymer micro products have played a primary role due to the possibility to be replicated by means of high throughput processes based on plastic moulding (injection moulding, micro injection moulding, hot embossing).The integration of multiple subcomponents in a single multi-material part, allows the production of enhanced properties microparts.

Volume production at industrial scale of miniaturised multi-material 3D components or sub-components (polymer-polymer, metal-polymer, metal-metal, polymer-ceramics,...) still offers important challenges to overcome ( until now , the main effort has been focused on the development of high quality and accurate mass production/replication technologies for micro mono-material parts ), challenges not only in terms of precision manufacturing (precision engineering miniaturised components (micro injection moulding and hot-embossing ), although are quite developed technologies, would need an improvement (precision, high throughput,...) and also be part of a process chains which integrates additional technologies in order to be cost efficient and fulfil the requirements the market of microsystem-based products demands (new material combinations with complex geometric forms and increased functionalities).

Specifically the goals of HINMICO are to develop:
A) Fast and precise µ-replication-assembly processes with new tooling concepts/designs for processing high quality miniaturised multi-material parts and to fabricate:
• 3D multi-material µ-components (sensing actuator, dental implant ...) using advanced materials/ sub-components with improved interface designs between them, by µ-Injection Moulding with sub-mm resolution.
B) High-throughput process chain by the integration of the above mentioned µ-replication-assembly and back-end processes for product finishing or a complementary activation step, to fabricate multi-material functional devices:
• Integrated processes based on Micro-replication (over-moulding, in-mould assembly, packaging) utilising modules of e.g.: coating, laser welding, laser direct structuring... ,with the goal to perform the necessary steps for obtaining finished products or provide functionality to m-devices, such as conductive coatings or functionalized packaging;
• High speed and precision handling system for delicate µ-parts (components and sub-components) which covers the core of the integrated processes chain, including the feeding and accurate allocation in mould of in-lay parts (parts/inserts to be over-moulded/assembled/packaged) and the placement of the injected multi-material components on the next stages within the process chain.
C) Global process chains with increased reliability (50%) and fabrication of high quality products.
• This requires on-line process monitoring and innovative on-line process inspection solutions.
D) High added value µ-devices with advanced functionalities:
The integration of high accuracy replication of multi-material functionalized components and back-end processes for additional functionalities will enable the introduction and combination of properties like enhanced bio-compatibility with drug delivery, conductivity with non-conductive, etc,...the possibilities of the high-throughput integrated technologies for the production of multi-material functional µ-components will be validated through 5 industrial demonstrators in 3 different sectors (health, communications, automotive).

Project Results:
In this section we describe the main results from the HINMICO ( High-throughput integrated technologies for multimaterial functional Micro-Components) project.

At the end in the project, as they were identified in the ESS ( Exploitation Strategy Seminar/ service provided by the European Commission ) held after the first year of project and the updated review form the partners, eleven key exploitable results were identified and achieved in the frame of the project.

Between these eleven results, there are some directly related to end user´s final products (five) and other ones (six) more focused in technology developments and solutions, as an important contribution to overcome the identified Micro-manufacturing challenges.

1. End user´s final products ( project´s demonstrators):

o Self-ligating thermoplastic bracket with torque boost, with metal insert into the slot.
This product is an enhanced version of an existing self-ligating aesthetic polymer dental bracket ( property of a SME partner in the project) , which have an important limitation to withstand the torque force in the last stage of the corresponding treatment, comparing with the metallic ones ( which are more efficient for carry on the treatment but have a negative aesthetic impact ).

Metallic dental brackets

The idea is to bring the behaviour of the polymer brackets closer to the metallic ones (aim to achieve the same efficacy of torque than a metal micromachining bracket) by the implementation of a metallic reinforcement ( via over-moulding process ) in the slot where the wire goes, in order to have a better torque control, which is very important for dental correction.

There are currently in the market other solutions based on a similar concept, in which the metallic reinforcement is allocated and attached/bonded directly to the slot after the production of the polymeric bracket, but those products have become an example of business failure due to the defects associated to their manufacturing approach and efficiency in mouth. Usually, in these solutions, the metallic reinforcement is “on air” ( direct contact with saliva ) and due to its very rough surface quickly becomes colonized by bacteria. Also the bonding goes without proper retention structure for composite so the metal insert breaks loose over time.

The proposed solution in HINMICO project overcomes these issues by allocating the metallic reinforcement (pre-treated/funcionalized for enhancing the adhesion metal-polymer) embedded in the bracket´s polymer body, by overmoulding it.

Metallic dental brackets

The idea is to bring the behaviour of the polymer brackets closer to the metallic ones (aim to achieve the same efficacy of torque than a metal micromachining bracket) by the implementation of a metallic reinforcement ( via over-moulding process ) in the slot where the wire goes, in order to have a better torque control, which is very important for dental correction.

There are currently in the market other solutions based on a similar concept, in which the metallic reinforcement is allocated and attached/bonded directly to the slot after the production of the polymeric bracket, but those products have become an example of business failure due to the defects associated to their manufacturing approach and efficiency in mouth. Usually, in these solutions, the metallic reinforcement is “on air” ( direct contact with saliva ) and due to its very rough surface quickly becomes colonized by bacteria. Also the bonding goes without proper retention structure for composite so the metal insert breaks loose over time.

The proposed solution in HINMICO project overcomes these issues by allocating the metallic reinforcement (pre-treated/funcionalized for enhancing the adhesion metal-polymer) embedded in the bracket´s polymer body, by overmoulding it.

Metallic dental brackets

The idea is to bring the behaviour of the polymer brackets closer to the metallic ones (aim to achieve the same efficacy of torque than a metal micromachining bracket) by the implementation of a metallic reinforcement ( via over-moulding process ) in the slot where the wire goes, in order to have a better torque control, which is very important for dental correction.

There are currently in the market other solutions based on a similar concept, in which the metallic reinforcement is allocated and attached/bonded directly to the slot after the production of the polymeric bracket, but those products have become an example of business failure due to the defects associated to their manufacturing approach and efficiency in mouth. Usually, in these solutions, the metallic reinforcement is “on air” ( direct contact with saliva ) and due to its very rough surface quickly becomes colonized by bacteria. Also the bonding goes without proper retention structure for composite so the metal insert breaks loose over time.

The proposed solution in HINMICO project overcomes these issues by allocating the metallic reinforcement (pre-treated/funcionalized for enhancing the adhesion metal-polymer) embedded in the bracket´s polymer body, by overmoulding it.

Potential Impact:
Economic and societal potential impact

The economic relevance of multimaterial microcomponents was confirmed by latest Market Reports, such as the ones from Yole or IHS iSuppli, which forecasted a continuously growing market share for many areas that directly depend on Micro and Nano manufacturing Technologies (MNMT). MNMT enabled components (MEMS) have already enabled new and more affordable products. Future MNMT-based technologies, products for health safety, ambient living, communication, and mobility will increase living standards and quality of life.
But, HINMICO project, rather than focus just on the MEMS market, placed its attention to the multiplying effect of MNMT enabled “macro” products or systems, helping to ensure/improve Europe’s competiveness through advanced control, additional performance and monitoring functionality in many areas. That is the reason why the main goals of the project where localize around the technological advances in miniaturising, reduced power consumption of electronic components, new materials, and surface structure enabled functionalities which have opened the way, in the last years, to new generations of products in a wide range of applications for the benefit of European society and, thanks to this multiplying effect, paved the ground for economic success in a much larger area of applications.
The reasoning made above came from the conclusions provided by different relevant publications like ManuFuture, where it was possible to find a classification where it was obvious that MicroNano enabled components play an important role, especially addressing the need for research in MNMT in its “emergent technologies”, and a strategic roadmapping document from the “European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA),” which also underlined the importance of Micro Nano-integrated devices remarking the following points:
• Most industrial sectors of importance to European manufacturing have a requirement to innovate through use of new materials and/or new functionalities, requiring manufacturing approaches that fully exploit the improved functionality and versatility of embedded „smartness“ for condition monitoring, maintenance and in-situ repair are driving these developments.
• Integration of electronics, e.g. using improved sensing and control systems, and customisation of smart products, such as in intelligent packaging, also demand new manufacturing methodologies, e.g. an increased use of laser technologies and roll-to-roll manufacturing.
• Additional services associated to products will introduce more embedded (micro) mechatronics in the product’s components and consequently, change the design and production methodologies.
• Small-scale products or products requiring micro-manufacturing processes for advanced features, micro- and nanoproducts/electronics

Although the present market and the future demand of MNMT based products represent a consolidated activity there are some challenges still to face for amplifying the economic impact. In general terms of competitive strategies there are only two ways to compete on the market: price and differentiation. MEMS markets are getting in some applications almost a commodity and this is why manufacturing costs reduction is so important.
Even though MEMS manufacturing involves a collection of a broad range of technologies there is a very important point common for most of them. Packaging, assembly, test and verification steps account for nearly 35% to 60% of a total MEMS packaged module’s cost. In some applications even could reach 95 % of total manufacturing unit costs. There is where HINMICO project, thanks to its integrated approach, combining overmoulding, assembly and online verification has boosted the use of MEMs devices impacting at different levels and even reducing, in some cases, the above mentioned costs by half, 50 %.
The key impact aspects of the HINMICO´s approach based on the integration of improved high-throughput and flexible cost efficient processes for micro-manufacturing of components, both suitable for small volume production and also for large series, as a crucial step for towards intelligent, scalable and adaptable systems, can be summarized below, along with the achieved economical impact:
• Improved high-throughput: The obtained results and developments along the project has made possible to achieve fully automate and synchronized process chains, reducing drastically the manual work and the corresponding inaccuracies in each case and simplifying every process steps in every application considered.
• High flexibility: The developments performed provided a interesting grade of reconfiguration of the manufacturing process chains, thanks to integrated multipurpose elements and stages.
• Cost efficiency: The developed and integrated in-line measurement and inspection systems along with the reduction of process chains steps ( thanks to the advantages provided by the involved process characteristics ) and the increased accuracy, supposes, for each application, an important cost reduction at higher quality production.
• Scaling up: As mentioned, the integrated process chains developed have the flexibility to adapt from low production volumes ( laboratory scale) to larger industrial size production volumes of different kind of multimaterial microproducts.
• Progress towards intelligent systems: The work performed in the project around online process monitoring is a relevant step abroad in the consecution of complete close-loop adaptable/smart micro-injection based production process with a control base on key process parameters and product parameters (e.g. in-line measurements). All of this, obviously led to a fast setting up processes with a relevant reduction of the time spent in previous preparation steps. In the same way, due to the developments and integration around the high speed quality control/monitoring technologies, a 100% full quality control production would be achieved, in the way to obtain a self-adapting high precision multi-material micro assembly injection moulding with total quality capability.
• Market demand: The obtained solutions in the project lead to high-throughput process chains with the capability to easily and rapidly adapt to changing market requirements, maintaining and improving the quality of the existing products with low manufacturing costs and allowing a low cost production of new products.
• Applications: In general, a 30% of total unit costs reduction has been achieved for each of the applications/user cases considered in the project, which makes these kind of solutions extensible to the production of new applications/products, even at small series, being the multifunctional applications the most advantageous ones.

Apart from a clear view of the general economic impact for any future viable application which follows the path/approach proposed by HINMICO project, we are able to confirm the fulfillment of the direct economic, and also qualitative, impact for the SME´s involved on it, as it was expected from the beginning of the project, which are summarized in the tables below:

List of Websites:
www.hinmico.eu

Contact

Saioa Mondragon, (Projects Officer)
Tel.: +34943206744
Fax: +34 943202757
E-mail
Record Number: 193576 / Last updated on: 2017-01-13
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