The proposal is for the formation of a Design House for MST. The purpose of the Design House is to enable manufacturing industry to gain access to this important technology, by providing project coordination and MST design services, and by bringing together the offerings of the best MST foundries across the EU. In this way, we will address the main barriers to entry into MST, namely the difficulty of identifying reliable routes to volume manufacture of MST devices; the high cost of entry and high technical risk for companies wishing to enter this area; and the scarcity of expertise in MST design. The proposed work covers the establishment of working relationships with identified foundries whereby AML staff are trained in the application of the design rules specific to each facility. Also, we will evaluate a number of software MST design tools and become expert users of one of them. These activities, combined with our existing extensive expertise, will enable us to provide a high quality design service. We will enable industry to access the technology, to the point of full volume manufacture of new MST devices.
The objective is to increase the use of and hence exploitation of MST products by industry, by reducing the entry cost and technical risks and providing a reliable route for volume manufacture. The achievement of a "critical mass" of suppliers of processes and services is an essential step in lowering the barriers to entry into this technology; and this project aims to do this by bringing together the offerings of the best MST facilities across the EU. By providing design and project co-ordination services, based on an in-depth knowledge of the design rules operated by each of the facilities, AML will help industry overcome its general lack of expertise in microsystems technology. The DH will therefore aim to mimic the activities of an ASIC design house and the relationship this ASIC design house has with its foundry suppliers. The goal is for the Design House to be self-funding.
The main subject of the proposal describes the formation, by AML, of a new MST Design House (DH). The DH will form links and work with a number of established MST foundries. AML's role will be to find potential companies that want to introduce MST into their products. AML will then provide them with customer support, feasibility studies, present some options of appropriate technologies and offer design services so that the MST component can be prototyped and then manufactured at one of the foundries and supplied to the customer. The foundries in the first phase are: SensoNor, Bosch, Tronics, OnStream and CRONOS. Associated work packages include: Extensive activities in raising awareness, dissemination and proactive customer acquisition will be carried out. This includes literature, mailshots, web page, running dedicated events and participating in selected Europractice organised events (e.g. exhibitions, workshops, etc.), as well as phoning and visiting selected potential clients. The continuation for 6 months, as a finishing off exercise, of enquiry handling that is required as a result of the past activities of MST2000 the UK & Irish EUROPRATICE Manufacturing Cluster 3. The evaluation of up to two MST design tools, followed by training and then the subsequent provision of enhanced design services to Industry using these tools. And finally a work package which takes an established, mature and commercially available MST component from one market sector and application, and produces a demonstrator that will encourage it to be exploited or distributed into a new market sector or application.