Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

HI-MICRO Report Summary

Project ID: 314055
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - HI-MICRO (High Precision Micro Production Technologies)

Executive Summary:
The Hi-Micro project has successfully developed an innovative approach for the design, manufacturing and quality control of tool inserts to achieve significant breakthrough in mass production of precision 3D micro-parts, through breakthroughs in developing of both enabling manufacturing technologies, e.g. additive manufacturing (AM), micro electrical discharge machining (micro-EDM), micro electro-chemical machining (micro-ECM) and micro-milling, and unique metrology and quality control methods such as computer-tomography (CT) metrology and digital holography. Together with industrial technology providers, the Hi-Micro project has laid down the step stones to bolster the performance of industrial equipment for mass production of precision 3D micro-parts, through modular design of tool insert units with improved thermal management capability, development of on-machine handling system and in-line quality control device. Activities will run over the entire value chain of mass production of precision 3D micro-parts, from product and tool insert design, manufacturing of tool inserts, micro injection moulding processes, to the production equipment and quality control in the whole production chain.
In order to tackle the identified challenges and critical problems in European manufacturing industry, the Hi-Micro project has provided radical innovations and major breakthroughs as follows:
• Development of design and tolerance guidelines for advanced micro manufacturing of components (nominal size <1mm)
• Reliable capability of manufacturing tool inserts with complex internal features for formal thermal management in micro-injection moulding (μIM) and micro powder injection moulding (μPIM)
• Processing technologies and equipment for manufacturing of 3D micro-parts with increased precision and accuracy to ensure smaller tolerances for the products, and
• Metrology methods for complex internal structure and high-speed inline quality control with improved measurement efficiency and without loss of resolution or accuracy.
The Hi-Micro project has successfully helped industrial stakeholders demonstrated their enhanced capacity in realizing next generation of products, including
• Ceramic knocker components for high-end watch through micro powder injection moulding
• Biochip for lab-on-chip application of disease detection
• Novel surgical device for ophthalmic surgery
• Multi-fold flow device for next generation of printing heads, and
• A micro-injection moulding platform with integrated on-machine high-speed QA system.

Figure 1: Hi-Micro project PERT chart and management structure
As depicted in Figure 1 as the Hi-Micro project approach and strategy according to the organization of WPs, this project is implemented in eight work packages (WP), with WPs 1 to 4 and WP6 dealing with the technical developments and scientific coordination, WP5 containing the demonstration activities, WP7 for dissemination and exploitation of the foregrounds, and WP8 dedicated to project management and coordination activities.

Project Context and Objectives:
Project context
The Hi-Micro project has realized an innovative value chain, covering the design, manufacturing and quality control of new, complex micro parts by micro injection moulding, in order to achieve significant breakthrough in reliability and efficiency of versatile, highest quality mass production. This includes not only further developing enabling manufacturing technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (AM), micro electrical discharge machining (micro-EDM), micro electro-chemical machining (micro-ECM) and micro-milling, but also unique metrology and quality control methods such as computer-tomography (CT) and digital holography. Furthermore, Hi-Micro has significantly advanced the simulation and process stability of both µIM and µPIM process and developed handling methods to allow for integration of multi-material inserts into sophisticated, cutting edge next-next generation European products in biomedical, micro optical, MEMS and other high economic potential markets.
Together with industrial technology providers, the Hi-Micro project has further bolstered the performance of industrial equipment for mass production of precision 3D micro-parts, through modular design of tool insert units with improved thermal management capability, development of on-machine handling system and in-line quality control device. Activities have run over the entire value chain of mass production of precision 3D micro-parts, from product and tool insert design, simulation, manufacturing of tool inserts, micro injection moulding processes, to the production equipment and quality control in the whole production chain.
The implemented scheme of process chain and partner involvement is depicted in Figure 2. The Hi-Micro innovative process chain has be studied for all demonstrators. In particular: The product and tool design and engineering have be carried out through cooperation of SOPHION, XAAR, POX, FORMATEC, KULEUVEN and DTU; KULEUVEN and LAYERWISE have produced the tool inserts by high precision additive manufacturing; UNIBREMEN, KULEUVEN and TUCHEMNITZ will provide the necessary process chain design and cavity micro machining; DESMA and DTU have provided the micro manufacturing platform concept including moulding, assembly and handling; X-TEK has carried out the computer tomography metrology for the quality control of both tool inserts and components and UNIBREMEN, together with DESMA has implemented the in-line high speed optical metrology equipment on an industrial micro-injection moulding system.

Figure 2: Hi-Micro process chain and partner involvement

Project objectives
In order to tackle the identified challenges and critical problems, the Hi-Micro project has planned to provide radical innovations and major breakthroughs to achieve specific objectives as follows:
• Reliable capability of manufacturing monolithic tool inserts made by Additive Manufacturing (AM) with integrated complex internal features (<150µm) for thermal management and process control,
O1 - Novel process chain for 3D micro-parts production, integrating different process technologies (AM, micro-EDM, micro-ECM, ultra-precision milling/turning, CT metrology, digital holography, μIM, μPIM, etc.), whereby reducing energy consumption and waste by 50%.
O2 - Tool inserts for μIM and μPIM with locally embedded thermal sensors and actuators produced using an optimized SLM process, including complex channels of feature size less than 150μm.
O3 - Modularized tool insert units applicable for μIM and μPIM of 4 part demonstrators and compatible with industrial production platform.
• Development of design and tolerance guidelines for advanced micro manufacturing of components (nominal size <1mm),
O4 - ISO adaptable tolerance framework for micro parts and sub-micro topography to both drive micro part design and validate/standardize micro manufacture processes capability, whereby reducing 50% waste and scrap in production.
O5 - Design principle and guidelines for additive manufacturing-oriented component design, i.e. design methodology dramatically different from traditional methods for components machined by e.g. milling etc.
O6 - Design rules for PECM-tool electrode design (including flushing) to achieve defined micro structures of highest shape accuracy of 1-2µm.
• Precision processing technologies and equipment for manufacturing of 3D micro-parts with increased precision and accuracy to ensure smaller tolerances for the products, and
O7 - Micro Jet-ECM unit capable of precision machining metallic parts produced by Additive Manufacturing. Extensive knowledge on the ECM behavior, applicable process parameters and achievable surface properties enable to improve target diameter to 10µm and increasing process accuracy by factor 5.
O8 - PECM process chain for fast and cost-efficient machining higher numbers of identical mould inserts, substituting time- and tool consuming processes (e.g. cutting and EDM) to increase efficiency by factor 20.
O9 - Micro-EDM tool electrode in-feed mechanism in combination with process monitoring for on-machine tool wear compensation, to achieve 1 µm machining accuracy with 40% increase of machine utilization.
O10 - Precision μIM and μPIM with localized conformal thermal management for large volume 100% defect-free production of 3D micro products for life science, medical, consumable and telecommunication industry, with reproducible/repeatable part tolerance <1% for all process parameters as measured on the micro polymer processing equipment.
• Metrology methods for complex internal structure and high-speed inline quality control with improved measurement efficiency and without loss of resolution or accuracy.
O11 - Improved CT hardware with improved reconstruction algorithm capable of reducing the severity of beam hardening and cone beam artefacts.
O12 - Calibration objects for scaling and segmentation of CT measurements of micro-parts (100µm)
O13 - Accurate/high-speed quality control equipment using digital holography for complex 3D micro parts, micro-features and sub-micro surface topography. Capable of (A): fast in-line inspection with high accuracy and precision dimensional measuring capability (repeatability: 0.5-1 µm, uncertainty: 1.0-2.5 µm), including functional test, and total inspection time in the order of the micro injection moulding cycle time (1-10 s, i.e. 10-20 times faster than 3D micro optical currently available systems); (B): Definitive, fast and accurate surface measurements of micro and nano-features vertical resolution: 0.01 µm and surface roughness measurements repeatability: 0.02 µm.
• Integration of production process with quality control system.
O14 - Industrial production platform (1 or 2K) integrated with in-line high-speed quality control system and handling system to reduce manufacturing platform footprint by 30% (i.e. combination of multistep production, testing, assembly). In-line high speed quality control process (cf. O13) capable of non-statistic inspecting 100% of the produced micro-parts and envisioned production system’s cycle time lies under 10 s.
Achieving these objectives is expected to bring about immediate positive impacts to Hi-Micro beneficiaries and to the European manufacturing industry through knowledge diffusion and exploitation. With the successful development of Hi-Micro process chain, enabling processing technologies and unique metrology systems, expected impacts are:
Contribution to the development of Advanced Manufacturing Systems defined in EU2020 strategy to promote the competitiveness of European SMEs and INDs.
Drastic reduction of production step, assembly time and quality control cycled through monolithic design of tool inserts, whereby reducing energy consumption and scrap by 50%.
Enabling consortium technology providers (DESMA, X-TEK, LAYERWISE) to improve their technology competence and competitiveness, and generate new jobs, for instance LAYERWISE expects 100% yearly growth and expands his business to micro mechatronics and high precision machine components, chemical industry, medical tools and instruments, medical implants.
Enabling consortium end-users (SOPHION, POX, XAAR, FORMATEC) to realise innovation in their new generation of products in a cost-efficient way in different sectors (life-science, medical, consumable and telecommunication etc.).
Compared to the current status (Figure 3), the expected impacts of Hi-Micro project are summarized in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Hi-Micro impact expectation

Project Results:
The Hi-Micro project has been be implemented following eight work packages (WP): WPs 1 to 4 and WP6 dealing with the technical developments and scientific coordination, WP5 containing the demonstration activities, WP7 the dissemination and exploitation of the foregrounds, and WP8 the project management and coordination activities.
The technical developments have been split between the work packages grouped into four important aspects in the process chain of precision manufacturing of 3D micro-parts through micro injection moulding: manufacturing-oriented product design (WP1), high precision manufacturing technologies for tool inserts (WP2), precision metrology for complex features (WP3), and product handling and quality control integration in manufacture system (WP4). These activities and S&T results/foregrounds are further summarized as the following:
• WP1: Manufacturing-Oriented Product Design The overall goal of WP1 is to develop general design guidelines to produce mould inserts with Additive Manufacturing (AM), taking into account both the possibilities and the limitations of AM processes. In the same time, a validated tolerance framework and design rules for micro product development in micro-injection moulding (µIM) and micro powder injection moulding (µPIM) will also be developed. The RTD focus and some of the achieved results are illustrated in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Achievements in manufacturing-oriented product design
In this workpackage, the following deliverables and milestones have been obtained:
• D1.1 Product/Tool/Process simulation report for proof-of-technology (PoT) components (M12)
• D1.2 General guidelines for producing moulds with AM (M24)
• D1.3 Standardized micro moulding simulation procedure and tolerance guidelines (M24)
• MS3 Definition of WP1 RTD requirements (M6) All technological requirements in RTD WP1 are defined and reported.
• MS6 Micro moulding simulation standard procedure is available (M9) The micro moulding simulation standard procedure for concurrent engineering of micro product including a closed loop product/tool/process design is validated, error less than 0.5%..
• MS7 General guidelines to produce moulds with Additive Manufacturing (AM) are available (M9) A set of general guidelines for producing moulds with AM, taking into account both the possibilities and the limitations of AM processes is available, design efficiency improvement 50%.
• WP2: High Precision Manufacturing Technologies has focused on the development of enabling precision processing technologies, including additive manufacturing for mould inserts with complex internal features, micro-milling, micro-EDM, jet-ECM and PECM for detailed inserts features and the µIM and µPIM processing technologies.

Figure 5: Achievements in high precision manufacturing technologies
In this workpackage, the following deliverables and milestones have been obtained:
• D2.1 AM technology for PoT mould inserts with non-conformal cooling for preliminary tests (M10)
• D2.2 AM technology for PoT mould inserts with conformal cooling for preliminary tests (M15)
• D2.3 Precision micro-machining processes for machining cavities on PoT micro injection mould inserts (M24)
• D2.4 Active micro-wire tool electrode in-feed technique for the real-time compensation (M24)
• D2.5 Adapted micro injection moulding process with AM produced PoT mould insert and local thermal management (M30)
• MS4 Definition of WP2 RTD requirements (M6) All technological requirements in RTD WP2 are defined and reported.
• MS8 Process parameters for production of the different chosen mould materials (e.g. IMPAX) available (M9) PoT (proof of technology) components (Ø10mm) with 100-150 μm internal channels produced by AM and quality controlled by CT metrology
• MS9 Monitoring of micro-manufacturing processes is working (M18) Design monitoring devices of precision machining, micro-EDM, laser processing and replication is completed.

• WP3: Precision Metrology for Complex Features will ensure the quality of both tool inserts and 3D micro-parts produced by micro-injection moulding. This WP will deal with both hardware improvement and optimization of reconstruction algorithm in CT scanning metrology for complex internal features and multi-material components. A high-speed in-line quality control system based on digital holography metrology will be developed. In addition to the development of metrology methods, calibration of dimensional metrology will also be carried out in this workpackage.

Figure 6: Achievements in precision metrology for complex features
In this workpackage, the following deliverables and milestones have been obtained:
• D3.1 Calibration objects and procedures for scaling and segmentation of CT measurements of micro-parts (M24)
• D3.2 In-line high speed quality control technology based on digital holography (M24)
• D3.3 Metrology of PoT micro tool inserts and quality control (M24)
• D3.4 Micro CT scanning metrology for PoT micro-parts (M30)
• D3.5 Calibration and Metrology for Micro/Nano Dimensional Quality Control (M33)
• MS5 Definition of WP3 RTD requirements (M6) All technological requirements in RTD WP3 are defined and reported.
• MS10 Artefacts for CT metrology of mould inserts are available (M18) Artefacts will be produced, calibrated and traced to length standard (ISO 14253-1).
• MS11 Adapted digital holography device for the in-line high speed quality control (M18) Device experimentally validated, repeatability: 1 μm, uncertainty: 2 μm

• WP4: Product Handling and Quality Control Integration on a Manufacturing System is directly linked to the demonstrator production and hardware development of a precision high-volume production platform for 3D micro-parts in Hi-Micro project. Handling of micro-parts in the process has been investigated and the high-speed quality control system developed in WP3 has been integrated into a DESMA system.

Figure 7: Achievements in product handling and quality control integration
In this workpackage, the following deliverables and milestones have been obtained:
• D4.1 Handling technology for the development of the Hi-Micro production system (M26)
• D4.2 Technologies for fully integrating PoT high speed metrology system (M36)
• D4.3 System integration technologies for Hi-Micro production platform with in-line quality control (M36)
• MS12 Handling concepts for all micro part demonstrators are available (M18) Technical reports approved by Hi-Micro consortium.

• WP5: project Demonstration has concentrated on the development of the requirements of the case studies 1 to 4, the production of the case study parts (involving the moulds as well as the micro injection moulded parts) and on the set up of the fully operational Hi-micro production system to demonstrate the development of advanced technologies within the Hi-Micro project. In the last part of the project, the technical developments, especially the precision high-volume production platform for 3D micro-parts will be demonstrated in an industrial environment within WP5.

Figure 8: Achievements in project demonstration of industrial components

Potential Impact:
4.1.4 The potential impact
The impact of the research and development will be industrially assessed in specific 4 case studies, with overall applications in the medical/life science, healthcare, consumable and telecommunication sectors. In addition to producing the 4 demonstrators, the industry relevance of the Hi-Micro project will be further assessed through the realization of a high precision high volume manufacturing platform implemented in an industrial environment, capable of producing 3D micro-parts of high precision and improved surface quality with reduced resource and high cost efficiency.

List of Websites:
http://www.hi-micro.eu/

Related information

Reported by

KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN
Belgium
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