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Integrated, multi-disciplinary approaches for micro-manufacturing research, and new opportunities and challenges to micro-manufacturing

Qin, Yi (2018) Integrated, multi-disciplinary approaches for micro-manufacturing research, and new opportunities and challenges to micro-manufacturing. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part N: Journal of Nanomaterials, Nanoengineering and Nanosystems, 232 (1). pp. 5-21. ISSN 2397-7922

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Increased demands on micro-products and miniaturised systems/devices have been a main driver to the rapid growth of the interest in research in micro- and nano-manufacturing. Currently, micro-manufacturing research is bridging “nano-manufacturing” and “macro-manufacturing” and hence, helping to bring nano-technology into real-world and affordable products, for which it is developing multi-length scale and multi-materials manufacturing capabilities. It is also playing more roles in helping transforming traditional industry and products to more competitive ones. Nevertheless, being shifted from “process focus” to “market/product” driven research and technological developments addressing production capability, product quality, pilot production line demonstration and delivery, there is clearly a need for micro-manufacturing research to adopt integrated, multi-disciplinary approaches to address development-related issues concurrently in order to shorten the development cycles for product realisation. It is believed that to transfer laboratory-processes to industrial applications within much shorter time-scales, the associated issues should be addressed with collaborations among different, relevant disciplines. EU funded integrated projects demonstrate such efforts. Product-development-centred approaches brought in expertise and resources in product design, material, analysis, testing, tools, machines, automation and manufacturing system integration as well as life-cycle engineering to address the development needs. At the same time, due to ever updated interests in new products and enabling manufacturing technologies with a view to meeting increased demands from healthcare, on quality of life, for wealth creation, social engagement and sustainable development, there are new challenges to micro- and nano-manufacturing research, which also suggest tremendous opportunities.