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Giant leap in tiny technology

25-04-2005 --- A £10 million project that aims to put the UK at the forefront of future micro-manufacturing technology is being launched at The University of Nottingham tomorrow.

The 3-D Mintegration project will look at the challenges facing the manufacturing sector over the next five to 10 years in the production of tiny three-dimensional components that could be used in everything from microscopic drug delivery implants to devices for the aerospace industry.

It will bring together scientists and engineers with industry partners to develop innovative new technologies for every step of the manufacturing process — design, processing, assembly, packaging and product testing.

By the end of the project, the group hopes to have cracked the issues involved in reel-to-reel production, where products can be manufactured using a similar method to the way in which newspapers are printed. They will also be considering ‘origami' manufacturing, where objects are created by a process of mechanical folding.

The four-year initiative will be funded with almost £10 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, university-based Innovative Manufacturing Research Centres (IMRCs) and industry. It will involve five IMRCs — including the Nottingham Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre — two further partner research organisations and strong collaborative support from around 30 industry partners.

Dr Svetan Ratchev, of the Nottingham Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre, said: “One critical issue we are looking at is whether, by being innovative and smart, we can develop new manufacturing processes that will allow us to produce high volumes of high-cost, high-value micro products.

“This is a key economic driver — by developing innovative processes we can make it cost-effective to produce complex 3D multimaterial products in this country, which will help to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in micro-manufacturing.”

The launch event, being held in the University's Trent Building tomorrow from 9am to 4pm, will feature a welcome from Dr Richard Masterman, the University's Director of Research Innovation Services, and a presentation from Dr Marc Desmulliez of Heriot-Watt University, which is leading the project.

The other institutions and companies involved in 3-D Mintegration are: Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IFM) at Cambridge University; Cranfield Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (CIMRC) at Cranfield University; Loughborough Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre (LIMCRC) at Loughborough University; Scottish Manufacturing Institute (SMI) at Heriot-Watt University; The University of Greenwich; the National Physical Laboratory; eight major companies and 21 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

More information is available from Dr Svetan Ratchev on +44 (0)115 951 4018, svetan.ratchev@nottingham.ac.uk or Press Officer Emma Thorne in the University's Public Affairs Office on +44 (0)115 951 5793, emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk


This story has been adapted from a news release -
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