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Objectives

FaBiMed project will act through concurrent engineering, integrating innovations from three key areas: flexible and cost-effective tooling fabrication, precision replication technologies, and inspection techniques.

FaBiMed will develop microreplication-based manufacturing routes for medical microdevices in a wide range of materials and geometries, focusing on improving the flexibility and cost efficiency. The current praxis is the use of methods inherited from semiconductor industry, which are effective for silicon based devices (microelectronics) and large batches. The market of medical microdevices has peculiarities which make this approach inefficient, and limit the innovation capability and market permeation of new SME players.

FaBiMed project will act through concurrent engineering, integrating innovations from three key areas: flexible and cost-effective tooling fabrication, precision replication technologies, and inspection techniques.

Fig. 1. FaBiMed concurrent engineering concept: concurrent design of device, tool and process, enabled by innovations

The central result of the project will be the development of rapid, cost effective, reusable and reconfigurable moulds, to be used for the precision replication of miniaturized devices. This advance in tooling technology will be linked with improving the quality, replication capability and cost effectiveness of mass replication technologies investigated in the project: i) injection moulding, ii) casting, iii) embossing.

The specific results of this project will be:

  • New mould concepts, together with simple and cost-effective ways of producing them.
  • Novel monitoring techniques for process, product and function assessment
  • Improved microreplication processes thanks to the integration of the previous innovations

The project outcomes will be demonstrated over three innovative designs of medical micro-devices:

  • a) Microneedle array for painless drug delivery with programmable pharmacokinetics.
  • b) Compact disposable lab-on-chip for point-of-care diagnosis.
  • c) Miniature high resolution ultrasound transducer microarray for catheterism.

This will demonstrate the ability of the manufacturing techniques developed by FaBiMed to simplify the process of bringing the product to the market. During the project, functional demonstrators of these products will be produced and their geometrical, mechanical and functional characteristics will be tested, starting also the first steps for further certification after the project completion.

The main technical developments in the project will be:

  • Digital direct manufacturing of moulds: methods of direct writing and structuring of the moulds at micron scale, without the need of lithographic projection masks or masters. This technical approach will be achieved through the combination of different additive technologies, micromachining and wet chemistry processes.
  • New mould materials and configurations: sectioned, multimaterial moulds allowing reconfigurability, in-mould process monitoring, and improving the process quality.
  • Low cost replication techniques: embossing, injection moulding, gel casting and advanced VPP (Viscous Plastic Processing) to allow microfabrication at low cost per unit, even in small batches.
  • Application to a wide range of materials and products: visco and injection moulding of conductive and functional polymers.
  • Novel quality inspection systems: optical coherence tomography and laser ultrasound will be further developed in order to allow inspection and quality control of the produced devices and products.