Does machining or molding something so small that you can’t see it with
the naked eye seem like science fiction to you? Then perhaps you are one of
the manufacturing practitioners who need a few myths busted.
While they may sound like futuristic concepts, in fact, micromanufacturing
and nanomanufacturing are becoming the biggest thing in our industry since the
moving assembly line.
A recent survey by the Society
of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) found that out of 400 manufacturing professionals
who expressed an interest in micromanufacturing, only half are already using
it in their products today. And more than 60 percent indicate nanotechnology
is important to their organization’s future growth.
There are many myths associated with these smallest manufacturing processes
and SME wants to bust them into nano-sized particles so that manufacturing practitioners
can take advantage of these real-life sci-fi opportunities.
Myth #1: Nanomanufacturing and micromanufacturing are technologies that may
be something great in the future, but they are not viable for today’s
Fact: Both nanomanufacturingand micromanufacturing are actively being used by
many manufacturers. Nanomanufacturing is a key enabler of the new generation
of lithium batteries for electric cars. Micromanufacturing is being used by
Boeing, RubberMaid, Gillette and many other companies.
Myth #2: Micromanufacturing is only used in the electronics industry.
Fact: Not any more. Micromanufacturing reaches far beyond electronics. For example,
it is essential in the production of many medical devices and critical aerospace
Myth #3: Micro and nano are just reduced sizes of the “life-sized”
Fact: The rules of the game are changed when dealing with these technologies.
There are significant process and material behavior changes beyond size that
you need to understand.
Myth #4: If I can machine “small” stuff, I can “micro”
Fact: Machining micro pieces requires special tools and skills. In traditional
machining, the greater force is exerted by the tool onto the material. For micromanufacturing,
it flips, and the material exerts more force on the tool.
Myth #5: If I can mold “small” stuff, I can mold micro particles.
Fact: Molding micro pieces also requires special tools and skills. Often with
micro molding, the piece or feature is smaller than the pellet size of the material.
This requires special attention to the flow, pressure, fill time and increased
impact of the material reaction with the mold wall and, most critically, the
design of the mold itself.
Myth #6: Even if I wanted to use micro or nanomanufacturing processes, tools,
suppliers and materials are practically non-existent.
Fact: While that once was true, it’s not so much any more. There are growing
numbers of processes, tools, materials and suppliers available for manufacturers
ready to move into micro and nano manufacturing.
Myth #7: What is happening in this field is all “hush, hush”, so
I can’t find experts to teach me.
Fact: There will be plenty of experts sharing knowledge at the MicroManufacturing
Conference & Exhibits and the NanoManufacturing Conference Exhibits, April
14-15, 2010, at the Hilton Phoenix East in Mesa, Ariz.
These co-located events offer insightful information on cutting edge technology.
At the MicroManufacturing Conference manufacturers will discover how to improve
part quality and lower production costs, gain a better understanding of the
proper techniques and applications that can be used in daily operations and
learn effective solutions to real-world problems.
Attendees at the NanoManufacturing Conference will learn the latest nanotechnology
applications and trends in top-down fabrication and bottom-up assembly. They
can explore ways to use nanotechnology to make products and obtain information
in order to benchmark their operations against other nanomanufacturers worldwide.
The leading developers of nano tools and manufacturing systems will also be
on hand to discuss their products.
For those who have problems getting beyond the myths, the Society of Manufacturing
Engineers will host two free webinars: Understanding NanoManufacturing: An Introduction
to a New World on February 9, 2010, 1 p.m. ET hosted by SME’s Nanomanufacturing
Tech Group; and MicroManufacturing: Getting Even Smaller on February 10, 2010,
11 a.m. ET.
Micromanufacturing and nanomanufacturing are becoming big business. And when
it comes to these processes, what you don’t know can hurt your business.