Micro injection moulding is a technology for complex geometrical components that is a widely applied process for polymer 3D micro-parts. The process chain for complex micro injection moulded micro-parts is defined by specialised steps, often limited by manufacturing processes at shop floor level. Accessible technologies are clearly at their limits. There are technical challenges in the current process chain that hinder European industry from becoming more globally competitive. To address these, the EU-funded HI-MICRO (High precision micro production technologies) project set out to create modularised tool insert units compatible with an industrial production platform. Work began with the creation of general design principles and guidelines for additive manufacturing-oriented component design. These guidelines can help raise the EU's competitiveness in this field. Before testing their novel approach to the design, manufacture and quality control of tool inserts, project partners developed several enabling technologies. These include high-precision tool inserts with improved thermal management capability and accurate, high-speed quality control equipment that employs digital holography for complex 3D micro-parts, micro-features and sub-micro-surface topography. The system was then integrated into an industrial production platform for 3D micro-parts. The HI-MICRO team successfully demonstrated the modular design of tool insert units, the in-line, high-speed quality control system and handling system, and the industrial platform. By using less energy, resources and associated costs, HI-MICRO contributed significantly to boosting the performance of industrial equipment for the mass production of high-precision 3D micro-parts.
High-precision 3D micro-parts, high-precision micro-parts, HI-MICRO, high precision micro production technologies, tool inserts, micro-injection moulding, 3D-micro parts production