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NEW TECHNOLOGIES | ARTICLE


Print your 3D Glass


Micro Mould T


he fabrication of complex, 3D micro scale shapes that can be replicated over large surfaces is an ongoing challenge, albeit one with a wide range of possible applications such as


engineered surfaces with tuned wetting properties scaffolds for cell studies, or surfaces with tailored optical properties. However, the creation of 3D features for micro scale devices are often limited by the fabrication processes available. The spectacular miniaturisation trend ongoing for the last 30 years in various fields has not been paralleled by a similar miniaturisation of the production means. Ironically, today the micro systems industry uses large numbers of sophisticated equipment to fabricate very small parts. Large capital investments are required to set up and operate such micro systems production facilities. Consequently, mainly products with potentially large markets are considered, and only a few large suppliers can make the necessary financial investments. Small and medium size companies are prevented from entering the field, although they usually are a strong source of innovative ideas. This issue has a negative impact on our innovation capabilities as well as our abilities to rapidly adapt to new demands. Further, foundries where surface micro machining takes place consume large amount of energy, most of it being used in operating the machinery and in the control of air temperature, humidity and purity as required for


<< Figure 1: Examples of 3D geometries for micro moulds realised in fused silica and relative replicas made with PDMS. Because of the flexibility of PDMS, the replica can be de-moulded even when the shape of the mould would not allow it. >>


photolithography. As sustainable growth requirements become more prevalent, these power-hungry fabrication techniques will face increasing societal scrutiny.


FEMTOprint positions itself as a breakthrough actor in this scenario thanks to the innovative technology and revolutionary manufacturing machines that develops. Even if the technology is labelled as 3D printing, FEMTOprint proposes a process, that introduces an important innovation compared to the competitors


<< Figure 2: First version design of the industrial femtoprinter, the f100 aHead. >>


20 | commercial micro manufacturing international Vol 7 No.3


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