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Desktop Integrated Manufacturing Platforms -DIMPs

by on December 13, 2011

With a group of collaborators (UCI, UT, GT, UICU and NU) we have a vision  to establish the intellectual and educational framework for a renaissance in advanced manufacturing in the US through the creation of affordable, integrated, flexible and widely distributed manufacturing platforms — Desktop Integrated Manufacturing Platforms (DIMPs).  These DIMPs would be portable and user-friendly enough to allow the development of personalized high add-on value manufacturing solutions, ‘apps’, by a large number of people.

Current large-scale manufacturing arrangements stifle innovation as they are very centralized, require huge upfront investments, necessitate expensive retooling for even a small product update and are inaccessible to small businesses, for example, clean rooms cost billions of dollars and are out of reach for most people. Among the consequences, experiments are too expensive, small lots cannot be run at a profit, and developments in poorer regions are hampered.

Moreover, many current manufacturing processes are inefficient in materials and energy utilizations, and there are tremendous costs involved in transportation of finished products. In contrast, three disparate communities have been working towards state-of-the-art, affordable, small footprint (desktop) manufacturing stations. These are material scientists for additive-based rapid prototyping (RP), MEMS and NEMS scientists for mask-less lithography, and mechanical engineers for mechanical-based micro-machining centers (see Figure 1).

Three Types of Desktop Factories.

Figure 1: Top Panel: (Left) Typical Rapid Prototyping Machine (Guangzhou Comac) (Middle) An SF-100 ELITE Maskless Lithography System (Intelligent Micro Patterning) and (Right) Commercial desktop factories (DTFs) at Sankyo Seiki, Japan. Middle Panel: The missing science framework. Bottom Panel: Attributes of current Desk Manufacturing systems.

The consequences are often single-material, single-process manufacturing tools with low-throughput and limited potential for size variation or for the development of new processes and/or more complex prototypes/products. For example, today only 10% of “objects” made by RP equipment constitute finished goods due to insufficient surface finish and limited choice of materials and length scales; mask-less lithography only exposes photosensitive polymers ; and mechanical-based micromachining centers are subtractive processes based only . Additionally, these workstations are built on ad-hoc and experience-based design principles governed by a limited set of process requirements in narrow application domains. Other shortcomings are the lack of a common protocol or shared design criteria among these disparate machines and the lack of collaboration among the communities that have developed them.

We propose a rethinking of advanced manufacturing that will empower more people by enabling access to DIMPs that are capable of synthesizing a set of different manufacturing steps (multi-physics) that enable product creation in different materials (multi-material) and at multiple relative and absolute tolerances (multi-length scales). Just as the iPhone, Android, and Arduino empower designers, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and hobbyists to create interactive tools or environments, the envisioned open architecture of the proposed DIMPs will encourage new manufacturing techniques and manufactured goods, with greater long-term value for investments in manufacturing research, IP and education.

From → MY BLOG

One Comment
  1. Interesting discussion, but I don’t understand how a open architecture of DIMP can be sustainable.
    For example I’ve been developing a partial mask less lithography with a stepper and this is the first step for a rapid prototyping of a microsystem.
    How can the open comunity help me? The process that you will share it’s a part important of the business; in the software, the open comunity help the realization of a lots of business project because you can share a common libraries.

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