A FAST process and production system for high-throughput, highly flexible and cost-efficient volume production of miniaturised components made of a wide range of materials


The main exploitable results achieved in this project are as follows


The core project result is represented by Micro-FAST machine system for the production of high quality components. It is first kind of the machine developed specifically for the manufacture of miniature to micro-sized bulk components with controlled micro-structures, using a wide range of powder materials.

The innovative and fast process combining micro-forming and electrical-field activated sintering technology (Micro-FAST) and fully automated machine system are expected to generate significant impacts in the manufacturing sector and component users. To accompany this several individual ancillary sub-systems related to the press have also been developed, including that for powder feeding, robotic handling of the die-set, ejector for the formed parts, laser die-cleaning and inspection system. These will also be exploited for other applications in different industrial environments.


Several types of high-quality powders have also been developed that can be used in the FAST applications as well as in other powder metallurgy processes. Nanostructured metal-based and ceramic powders are produced with different techniques able to deliver controlled and homogenous chemical and structural composition and optimized flowability, leading to high quality formed parts produced. Correspondingly, advanced surface treatment and coating techniques for micro-tooling have been developed for high-temperature applications such as Micro-FAST processes, including active-screen plasma co-alloying technology enhancing oxidation and wear resistance and reducing friction coefficient of the tool surfaces.

In addition to these, first kind of multiscale modelling technique and software modules for the modelling of electrical-field activated sintering and forming have been developed, which is able to link modelling of micro-scale electro-plasticity, diffusion bonding and bulk-material deformations to predict the material behaviours during Micro-FAST.


High-quality parts produced are expected to have impacts in the field of miniaturised products/systems, both for users and manufacturers. The production of these parts through the Micro-FAST process and the machine will result in better performances, more economical gains and enhanced industrial competitiveness, compared to the current solutions.

More information
Web resources: http://www.micro-fast.eu
Start date: 01-09-2013
End date: 28-02-2017
Total budget - Public funding: 7 512 973,00 Euro - 5 349 843,00 Euro
Call topic: Manufacturing of highly miniaturised components (FoF.NMP.2013-11)
Cordis data

Original description

The aim of the project is to develop a completely new manufacturing system for the volume production of miniaturised components by overcoming the challenges on the manufacturing with a wide range of materials (metallic alloys, composites, ceramics and polymers), through: (i) developing a high-throughput, flexible and cost-efficient process by simultaneous electrical-forming and electric-fast-sintering (Micro-FAST); (ii) scaling up the process to an industrial scale; (iii) further developing it towards an industrial production system for micro-/nano-manufacturing. These will be enabled/supported by developing: (i) a new machine concept: Micro-FAST CNC Machine; (ii) an innovative inline monitoring and quality inspection system; (iii) innovative multiscale modelling techniques for the analysis of the micro-structural behaviours of materials and its interactions with the production processes; (iv) new tooling techniques for high-performance tools, and (v) high-performance nano-material systems. The whole development will take into account energy savings, cost and waste reduction, and recycling issues which will be studied thoroughly through an expertise Life-Cycle Assessment.
           The development should lead to substantial improvements in the manufacture of components at micro and nanoscale with a good balance on cost and performance. The consortium seeks: reduction of the overall manufacturing cost by 50-100%; energy consumption by more than 30-50%; achieving full-density (100% density) components; direct economic gains for the SME participants of up to 5-25%.
           The whole development will support the EU-wide product innovations involving use of miniature and micro-components in many manufacturing sectors and, especially with difficult-to-cut and difficult-to-form materials. Adopting the production system in industry should help the EU manufacturing sectors to gain new technological and business competiveness significantly.



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Significant innovations and achievements

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Economic sustainability Supply chain and value network efficiency Circular economy Social sustainability Occupational safety and health
Environmental sustainability Reducing the consumption of energy, while increasing the usa... Material efficiency Waste minimisation Co-evolution of products-processes-production systems (‘indu...
    Comment: The new manufacturing system is intended for a high throughput, flexible and cost-efficient process for the production of ministurised components, realized using a wide range of materials, with strict dimensional tolerances. The whole development takes into accout energy savings and waste reduction.
      Comment: Development of new technologies for production of powdered raw materials in an optic of improvement of economic performance. Extremely short processing-time, direct manufacture, very short process-chain and innovative highly efficient CNC type machine system can achieve sensible reduction of manufacturing costs.
      Comment: The Micro-FAST process makes optimal use of materials supplied, with its highly monitored production chain. Powders not employed in a single process can be collected and re-introduced in the manufacturing system.
      Comment: The incidence of defective parts will be significantly low thanks to the monitoring of all the stages of production. Due to the high level of precision requested in miniaturized mechanical parts, one of the main goals of the project is the achievement of near-zero defects in components realized.
      Comment: In the project frame, different studies are conducted about the re-process of raw materials not possessing the required characteristics, in order to minimize the discarded amount. Efficiency in the production stage is guaranteed by the high level of control in the process and the optimization of resource statuses ("stand-by functionalities of certain components). Innovative solutions in dealing with end-of-life products are subject of research.
      Comment: Facilities wher Micro-FAST raw materials and final products respectively are and will be manufactured, comply with the European safety standards of people operating in them. Powders employed are in an aggregated state, not representing as high a concern for their handling as if they were not.

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Manufacturing the products of the future Novel materials Complex structures, geometries and scale
Customised products Resource efficient, sustainable products
      Comment: The parts to be manufactured in the project are miniaturised components with complex geometries and high accuracy. Special tooling techniques and tooling materials are developed to manufacture these componens.
      Comment: Project relates with the development on novel powder materials for FAST sintering process and in particular nanostructured Ti Alloys and steels and ceramics with very fine and accurate particle size.
      Comment: The production system developed by Micro-FAST allows a temperature process range very flexible to use of several materials (metal alloys, ceramic, CerMet and composites). The tooling geometries are developed specifically for the targeted products.
      Comment: The Micro-FAST process is a net shape manufacturing process that is not generating production waste. therefore inherently efficient in terms of resources. The Micro-FAST system allows an efficient management of the manufacturing cycle controlling the quality of product in line with an high degree of automation and integration of each production step.

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Advanced material processing technologies Shaping technology for difficult to shape materials High productivity and “self assembly” technologies developme... Methods for handling of parts, metrology and inspection Innovative physical, chemical and physicochemical processes Replication, Equipment for flexible scalable prod/Assembly ,... Mechatronics and robotics technologies
Control technologies Intelligent machinery components, actuators and end-effectors Advanced materials in manufacturing systems Information and communication technologies ICT solutions for modelling and simulation tools Modelling and simulation methods of manufacturing processes ... System modelling, simulation and forecasting

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Manufacturing strategies
    Comment: Approach for a simplified production that would embed in one machine several processing steps (i..e MIM )

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    standard in powder materials qualification for micro-FAST