Micro-factory for Miniaturization, Portability and Remote Production

Period of Performance: 08/01/2006 - 05/31/2007


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Microlution, Inc.
4038 N Nashville Ave
Chicago, IL 60634
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
600 S Mathews
Urbana, IL 61801
Institution POC


The authors developed an automated microfactory prototype at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005 as part of a grant from the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. The prototype provided proof-of-concept for important microfactory technologies, and revealed gaps between the state-of-the-art and the Navy microfactory requirements listed in the solicitation. The proposed innovations address the technical challenges in modularity, mass-production, micro-assembly, in-situ metrology, portability and ruggedness. A distributed control scheme, a modularized material conveyance system and a uniform mechanical and electrical interface system will be developed to address modularity requirements. New systems for automated processing of incoming material and automated micro-assembly of Navy devices will be designed. Generalized micro/meso-scale metrology capabilities will be provided through alternative sensor technologies and a new data collection and processing algorithm. An analysis of microfactory performance and capability metrics versus the specification level for portability and ruggedness will be created. Special focus will be given to the microfactory environmental control system. Phase I will provide the top-level designs for the phase II production of a microfactory system that is both deployable for on-site, rapid-response production of high-value defense applications and commercially viable for a broad range of non-defense applications.BENEFITS: The microfactory product resulting from the proposed development will provide both DoD and commercial vendors with micro-scale production capabilities that deliver lowered capital and operating costs and improved performance compared with traditional technologies. These capabilities will improve existing DoD and commercial micro-manufacturing applications and enable new, advanced applications. The proposed innovations will also have commercial benefits through improved micro-machining process capabilities (for immediate use at Microlution) in the areas of metrology and micro-assembly. Additional benefits will be gained through improved micro/meso-scale machine tool (mMT) design from the modularity, portability and ruggedness development work included in the proposal.