Radioactive material of high activity levels has to be handled in a nuclear medicine environment. Until now most of these activities are done manually or by rudimentally automated processes. To increase radiation safety and process quality, smart automation strategies for these processes have to be developed. Especially long-term processes with radioactive materials have to be automated in early stages of development. This leads to a certain flexibility regarding requirements demanding an adjustable automation concept.
The application of radiation hardened sensors is expensive but even these sensors will be destroyed by radiation effects. To allow therefore standard sensors to be used in radioactive environments, different strategies have been tested: In general, the sensors must be applied in a way to allow an easy access to sensors for replacement purposes. But this approach might not be sophisticated. An additional solution is the reduction of exposure of sensitive parts such as electronics. This means dividing the sensor in a measuring part which is placed in the radioactive environment and in a sensitive, shielded control part as it is realized by fibre optic sensors.
The implementation of these approaches is demonstrated in sensor applications for radium handling systems e. g. contactless control of the needle clearance of a dispensing system via a fibre optic sensor. Further scenarios for sensor integration problems are presented in this paper.
Innovative production processes and strategies from batch production to high volume scale are playing a decisive role in generating microsystems economically. In particular assembly processes are crucial operations during the production of microsystems. Due to large batch sizes many microsystems can be produced economically by conventional assembly techniques using specialized and highly automated assembly systems. At laboratory stage microsystems are mostly assembled by hand. Between these extremes there is a wide field of small and middle sized batch production wherefore common automated solutions rarely are profitable. For assembly processes at these batch sizes a flexible automated assembly system has been developed at the iwb. It is based on a modular design. Actuators like grippers, dispensers or other process tools can easily be attached due to a special tool changing system. Therefore new joining techniques can easily be implemented. A force-sensor and a vision system are integrated into the tool head. The automated assembly processes are based on different optical sensors and smart actuators like high-accuracy robots or linear-motors. A fiber optic sensor is integrated in the dispensing module to measure contactless the clearance between the dispense needle and the substrate. Robot vision systems using the strategy of optical pattern recognition are also implemented as modules. In combination with relative positioning strategies, an assembly accuracy of the assembly system of less than 3 μm can be realized. A laser system is used for manufacturing processes like soldering.