Minimizing Defects in Micro-Manufacturing Applications

Zero defects manufacturing is an objective long aspired in modern industries. Producing parts that do not meet the requirements leads to negative economic impacts, from wasted manufacturing resources to the need of more expensive equipment for manufacturing and quality control. Moreover, more and more sectors cannot allow defect parts in critical applications due to safety issues. This project aims at contributing to this on-going effort in optimizing manufacturing processes combining the minimisation of defects within reasonable economic conditions, but not aiming at general manufacturing, but focusing on micro-manufacturing, considered here as the production of small parts with functional features in the range of the micrometer and medium size parts with form requirements below the micrometre and surface roughness requirements even below the nanometre (typically optical elements). Silicon based microsystems are not considered in the project, focusing the activity to engineering micro-components and high precision optics and lenses. Micro-manufacturing requires a ‘zero-defect’ oriented approach, both in large scale and in short-run production. Current quality control approaches, coming from macro-manufacturing, are mainly based on post-process geometric control which produces a large time lag between the defect generation and its detection, usually leading to large amount of defective parts (large scale) or wasted high value processing (short run). Moreover, this approach does not immediately point to the error source to help with error correction, and other criteria such as material integrity, physical properties, surface topography and piece or component functionality are not taken into account. There is clear need for extending the final product validation to a process monitoring approach in micro-manufacturing, where all the manufacturing process is monitored, from the raw material to the fabrication processes and the manipulation of the final parts, and where all this information is processed in real time with suitable models for error prediction, automatic detection and process optimization by system correction. The project will give a global solution for the ‘zero defect’ approach in micro-manufacturing, with a focus on the aspects that are specific to micro-manufacturing. The technology concepts that will be developed are expected to have an impact in the competitiveness of the micro-manufacturers in the following ways: • Reducing process variability detecting defects as soon as they are generated or in the case that it is possible, are going to be generated by predicting models • Allowing the use of less expensive machines, that can reduce their variability through monitoring • Requiring less skilled working force, thanks to acquired process setting knowledge and the development of smart decision-making tools.
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Start date: 01-11-2011
End date: 31-10-2014
Total budget - Public funding: 5 565 244,00 Euro - 3 999 848,00 Euro
Call topic: Towards zero-defect manufacturing (FoF.NMP.2011-5)