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How Small Is Small Enough?

As technology evolves, it seems that everything is getting smaller. The evolving field of microfabrication, defined as either devices or components or larger devices that contain features measured in hundreds or few microns, is evolving within various industries. 

The measurement of a micron (µm) is one-millionth of a meter. When you compare this to the average human hair (measuring between 50 and 100 µm in diameter), it shows the scale we are dealing with. What is the need for devices measured in microns in modern industries? 

Size in the Medical Field

In the medical industry, the demand for precision has resulted in a wide variety of microfabrication techniques. With surgery becoming more technologically sophisticated, there is a need for more geometries and mechanisms to perform surgery, for example, lasers are used in procedures as diverse as refractive eye surgery, treating skin conditions, and tumorous cancers. 

With the ability to create microscopic tools and mechanisms, it facilitates the pioneering work of performing procedures without the need for invasive surgery.

They are also used in mechanical processes, such as micromachining, which uses machinery to create microstructures by etching structural layers over a substrate or creating structures over a small surface. There is also micromolding, which is a form of micro injection molding.

Innovations are continuing to shrink, but the demand for practical products is still on the rise. We can witness this in real life, such as wearable devices. In many industries, the demand for smaller products produces a number of significant benefits. 

Manufacturing Industries

For example, in the manufacturing industry, the abilities to use precision technology yield higher quality outcomes, but from a practical perspective, they also consume less power. This provides significant benefits for any company looking to improve its overheads.

In addition, microfabrication can help businesses and vendors on a practical level. The importance of managing a project from its concept to its final product comprises acute knowledge of each aspect of the design process, as well as regulatory requirements to avoid problems further down the line. 

Using microfabrication techniques requires more effort, and the process may demand additional scaling-up. But the outcome is far more beneficial. It results in higher production volumes at a quicker rate. 

Conversely, it can pose issues with regard to vendors. It’s important to note that as innovations are getting smaller, there is a demand for the vendors and suppliers to upskill their resources. Many companies and vendors are still in their infancy in microfabrication, which requires careful consideration from the perspective of the manufacturer, as they need to find a vendor that can meet their needs.

To make the most of this exciting innovation, businesses need to anticipate an additional effort upfront. It may take more money and time at the front-end to implement an efficient micro part. However, the process can transfer directly to mass production, resulting in better efficiency in the long run. 

Size Matters

How small is small enough? The answer depends on the nature of the industry, the demand for that type of precision, as well as the ability for the relevant vendors to utilize modern microfabrication techniques effectively. Smaller has a number of different benefits, and with a reduction in size comes a huge swathe of innovations, but it’s vital that each stage of the process is ready for the innovations.