Notwithstanding recent technological advances, the social and economic situation for assembly-intensive companies in Europe is in serious decline (European outsourcing of assembly at 21% in 2000, predicted over 40% by 2007). The alarming issue behind such forecasts are, among others, the long-term consequences of outsourcing assembly to non-European countries, in spite of the fact that entire industries have already been lost through such practices. Strategically speaking, new technologies such as micro pro ducts, and their production systems, could be exploited to turn these threats into opportunities, which has happened outside Europe. To date, no comparable measures have been taken in Europe. Industrialists and some academic partners of the Assembly-Net Th ematic Network, propose such an initiative as an Integrated Project titled EUPASS. The EUPASS project aims to develop affordable, cost effective and sustainable ultra-precision manufacturing solutions by offering rapidly deployable ultra-precision assembly services on demand. This will be achieved by developing and delivering a number of breakthrough technologies and solutions including: - European wide pilot infrastructure of depots of micro-assembly modules and integration software, enabling rapid configu ration and deployment of flexible precision assembly systems with minimum investment cost. - Next generation ultra-precision enabling technologies, including modular high-precision manipulators, grippers and feeders. - Novel micro joining techniques includ ing micro-mechanical joints, nano-dispensing, and laser welding. - Robust and legacy-compliant knowledge driven methodology, cost models and software tools to support the offering of rapidly deployable ultra-precision assembly services with low investment cost, high capacity utilisation and improved equipment reusability - New standards for seamless integration of precision assembly modules and control systems using open architecture approach.
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