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17 February 2010 A research factory for polymer microdevices: muFac
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As part of our research on the manufacturing science of micron scale polymer-based devices, an automated production cell has been developed to explore its use in a volume manufacturing environment. This "micro-factory" allows the testing of models and hardware that have resulted from research on material characterization and simulation, tooling and equipment design and control, and process control and metrology. More importantly it has allowed us to identify the problems that exist between and within unit-processes. This paper details our efforts to produce basic micro-fluidic products in high volume at acceptable production rates and quality levels. The device chosen for our first product is a simple binary micromixer with 40×50 micron channel cross section manufactured by embossing of PMMA. The processes in the cell include laser cutting and drilling, hot embossing, thermal bonding and high-speed inspection of the components. Our goal is to create a "lights-out" factory that can make long production runs (e.g. an 8 hour shift) at high rates (Takt time of less than 3 minutes) with consistent quality. This contrasts with device foundries where prototypes in limited quantities but with high variety are the goal. Accordingly, rate and yield are dominant factors in this work, along with the need for precise material handling strategies. Production data will be presented to include process run charts, sampled functional testing of the products and measures of the overall system throughput.
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Brian W. Anthony, David E. Hardt, Melinda Hale, and Nadege Zarrouati "A research factory for polymer microdevices: muFac", Proc. SPIE 7593, Microfluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems VIII, 75930A (17 February 2010);

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