Micromanufacturing at the nano scale leads to the production of improved materials and new products. The field is booming and for European manufacturing to remain competitive, an improved process for delivering 3D microproducts using nano-structured materials is required. 'Nano/micro integration in micromanufacturing' (NANOMICRO) was an EU-funded project that has provided industry with an entirely new manufacturing platform combining precision and speed. A novel production method with highly focused powder and heat fluxes yields accuracy in the micron range, surpassing current technologies whose resolution is on the order of 50 micrometres. An innovative multi-material (gradient) deposition process that can exploit either single hollow laser head sintering or multiple microwave sintering heads in parallel increases throughput. Online monitoring ensures a layer-wise manufacturing approach to produce 3D components with excellent control of both accuracy and speed. After the end of the project, further work will concentrate in process optimisation. As a result, with the new NANOMICRO high-precision, high-production manufacturing machine, scientists have extended the range of materials and geometries that can be used. The machine is cost effective and completely automated to deliver reliability of process control and high-quality products. By improving both the quality and type of microproducts that can be manufactured, NANOMICRO technology is expected to expand existing markets and open the door to new ones. This will have major impact on enhancing the competitiveness of the EU in a large and growing global market.
Nano-micromanufacturing, microproducts, nano-structured materials, micromanufacturing, heat fluxes, multi-material, laser, sintering, microwave, online monitoring, 3D components