European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
Content archived on 2024-05-29

Multi-Material Micro Manufacture: Technologies and Applications

Final Report Summary - 4M (Multi-Material Micro Manufacture: Technologies and Applications)

Funded by the EC, this network sought to develop Micro- and nano- technology (MNT) for the batch-manufacture of micro-components and devices in a variety of materials for future microsystems products. The network acted as a knowledge resource to the research community and to industry in the development of microsystems devices that provide new, enhanced and multi functionality in tiny packages, integrating micro and nano scale features and properties into products and systems.

Microsystems-based products are envisaged to be an important contributor to Europe's industrial and economic future, as a key value-adding element for many sectors of industry - and the predicted nanotechnology future will also be largely delivered by micro-technologies. While the late 20th century has seen a silicon-based microelectronics revolution, the 21st century looks forward to the adoption of MNTs making use of a variety of materials, components and knowledge-based technologies that provide functionality and intelligence to highly miniaturised systems. Markets for microsystems are predicted to double over 5 years from 2004 to 2009.

The breadth and depth of technologies for multi-material micro manufacture were studied to identify mismatches between current and future application requirements and manufacturing capabilities. The following generic conclusions could be derived from the response of the research community and industry:
- There is no one technology that will prevail - the 'breakthroughs' if any will come from an innovative integration of complementary technologies and their implementation in new manufacturing platforms.
- A 'tool box' of technologies exists to support the move from designing MST-based products for specific materials and processes to designing processes / process chains to satisfy specific functional and technical requirements of new emerging multi-material products.
- There are signs of bridging the 'gap' between 'mechanical' ultra-precision engineering and 'Micro electro-mechanical systems and integrated circuits (MEMS / IC)-based' technologies. Many promising process chains suggested by the research community integrate component technologies from both groups.
- The breadth of micro-manufacturing technologies makes it difficult to select the most appropriate manufacturing route. Therefore, it is very important to advance the existing design for manufacture knowledge.
- The strength of Europe is in the availability of trained people, well established machine tool industry and multidisciplinary product development expertise. These are the most important ingredients for the establishment of knowledge-intensive production capabilities in Europe.
- The main weaknesses that may slow down the take up of MNT in Europe are the investment required to adopt these technologies, the conservatism of some industrial sectors, the lack of knowledge sharing between R&D actors and industry, and lack of standards and metrology support.