Microsystems-based products are a key value-adding element for many sectors of industry - and the predicted nanotechnology future will also be largely delivered by microtechnologies. While the late 20th century saw a silicon-based microelectronics revolution, the 21st century looks forward to the adoption of micro- and nano-manufacturing technologies as the demand for function and length scale integrations increases continuously on the way to bridging the gap between the nano- and the macro-worlds.
The existing imbalance between the ease with which batch-fabricated microcomponents and microsystems can be produced in silicon compared to the difficulties and costs associated with their manufacture in other materials hinders the introduction of new microsystems-based products into the market. Although there may be commercial advantages to leveraging the present suite of IC-based processes and materials, they will not be able to meet the demands of emerging products for 3D and high aspect ratio structures, enhanced-force microactuation, improved environmental resistance, high precision, and unification and standardisation. To broaden the range of microsystems-based products and to simultaneously multiply their capabilities requires the integration of new materials and precision engineering technologies for their processing with IC-based, batch-fabrication processes. Whilst these are the major challenges in developing new products they also offer promising research and development areas for innovation and opportunities for value creation.
Therefore the main goal of the 4M Conference series is to provide a forum for experts from industry and academia to share the results of their research in an open, friendly and rewarding environment and in so doing to advance the creation of micro-manufacturing capabilities that can take advantage of the opportunities described above, such as:
- Product miniaturisation through innovative integration and development of knowledge-based technologies and production concepts (especially micro and nano) for the processing of non-silicon materials;
- Prediction of product and process performance to reduce/manage the risk during product development and production, and to reduce time to market for the next generation of microsystems-based products;
- Future product platforms to meet the requirements of the next generation of microsystems-based products, and of more stringent regulations and environmental legislation;
- Production scale-up to ensure effective and efficient transfer of product and technology ideas from laboratories to serial production.