Contents - June 2004
Welcome to the third edition of Newslyne, Micralyne's quarterly e-newsletter. This newsletter covers topics relevant to the MEMS industry and recent news from Micralyne. We hope you find it interesting, relevant and easy to read.
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Now that summer is approaching, many people are thinking of their vacation plans and lessoning the pace of their work projects. At Micralyne, we are seeing quite the opposite and are ramping up for a busy summer season.
We are continuing to see signs of strength in the MEMS development industry as our start-up customers are receiving additional rounds of financing while our established customers are investing more into their MEMS-based products. More importantly, our customers are receiving more orders from their customers and the result is that both our development and manufacturing groups are becoming busier.
We are pleased to see strong growth in development and manufacturing projects but the real key success factor in our business is the bridge between the two areas. We find that many MEMS companies are very good at either development or manufacturing but few are good at both.
In the development realm, we create products by translating a design concept into a manufacturable part. On the manufacturing side, we improve a stable process that outputs Known Good Die to create ongoing cost savings and quality improvements.
It is this Transfer to Manufacturing (“TtM”) process or the area between development and manufacturing that is often the tipping point of whether projects will succeed or fail. It is within the TtM process that will determine if product specifications actually meet market requirements and if the proposed manufacturing process has a cost structure that meets long-term price targets.
We find at Micralyne that many of our customers are not aware of the significance of the TtM process and the fact we must spend considerable time evaluating the timeline, cost and personnel implications of a transfer program and what is the best use of available resources.
We have further found that after completing a number of TtMs over the past few years, Micralyne's culture, physical infrastructure and specific technical know-how are key success factors but also relatively unique in the world of MEMS development and manufacturing. Everything from how our staff interacts to our data collection systems to our fab cleanroom set-up all contribute to TtM success.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Newslyne and I would encourage you to contact me or a member of our team to learn more about our TtM successes and how they can be applied to your MEMS product development program.
Polymer MEMS & Polymer Microfluidics
More than a decade ago, Manz and Harrison published their seminal paper on microfluidic devices etched into planar glass and silicon substrates. Research into these devices has since exploded and has moved from academic to the corporate laboratory.
Since the publication by Manz and coworkers, there have been many new and exciting applications of this powerful technology touching on many fields including medicine (e.g. biological fluid analysis), the environment (e.g. air or water analysis), defence (e.g. biowarfare detection), and proteomics (e.g. DNA or protein detection and analysis). As this technology becomes more widespread, there is pressure to make the devices less costly. One method to reduce the cost is to manufacture MEMS and microfluidic devices from polymers.
Polymers provide many benefits to MEMS and microfluidics. There are vast arrays of polymers that can be used to fabricate a variety of devices. The characteristics of polymers range from optically transparent to opaque, numerous colours, heat resistant, and chemically resistant. From a microfluidic point of view, there are polymers such as polycarbonate, PMMA (acrylic), or cyclic olefin (co) polymers that can be easily moulded that retain the optical transparency of glass. Additionally, polymers can be metallized with a variety of metals (e.g. gold, chrome, platinum, titanium, aluminum, etc). Polymers can also be used to form hybrid devices with other substrates such as glass or silicon.
One year ago, Micralyne embarked on an aggressive program to develop the necessary processes required for polymer MEMS and polymer microfluidics devices. This involves development of moulds necessary for replication of polymer devices with micron-sized features, replication methods necessary to reliably reproduce small features, metallization strategies, and polymer bonding strategies. Micralyne, using its current expertise in glass and silicon processing, can produce high quality moulds consisting of micron-sized features (1 micron to 100’s of microns deep or wide). Replication, depending on the device requirements, can be through injection moulding or hot embossing. Micralyne will also metallize polymeric devices with its strong thin film capabilities. Polymeric devices are well suited for price-sensitive products and for medium to high volume production. Micralyne is now ready to offer these services to clients interested in developing polymer MEMS and polymer microfluidic products.
The expectation is that simple devices currently produced in traditional substrates such as glass or silicon will see a 10-fold reduction in cost when produced using polymers at higher volumes. As the replication process ensures that there is a high fidelity between parts, polymeric devices provide an economical method to produce product at volume. As there is an array of polymers with different characteristics from which to choose, a suitable polymer is likely to be found for a wide variety of applications.
Micralyne Announces Sponsorship of MicroTAS 2004
Micralyne has announced its Gold sponsorship of the eighth international Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (MicroTAS 2004) in Malmö, Sweden, September 26 - 30, 2004. MicroTAS 2004 is an annual meeting focusing on the research, development and application of micro- and nanofabricated devices and systems for chemical and biochemical measurements.
::Read Full Release
Audio Interview with Chris Lumb on the MEMS Industry
Listen to a recent audio interview with Chris Lumb, President & CEO of Micralyne, during which he provides his perspective on the state of the MEMS industry. This interview was done by Tim Bourquin for The Small Tech Audio Newsletter.
::Listen with Windows Media Player
::Listen with RealPlayer
Micralyne Announces Sponsorship of COMS 2004
Micralyne announced its Partner-level sponsorship of the 9th Annual Conference on the Commercialization of Micro and Nano Systems (COMS 2004) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 29 - Sept. 2, 2004. COMS is the foremost international conference on the commercialization of microsystems and nanotechnology, bringing together key business and technical professionals from every segment of the supply chain.
::Read Full Release
Micralyne to Host Facility Tour & BBQ for COMS Delegates
Micralyne's contribution to COMS 2004 in Edmonton will comprise of both cash and in-kind donations, including hosting a Tour and Alberta BBQ at its state-of-the-art facility the evening of Monday, August 30th. Following the Vendor Showcase and Reception at the Shaw Conference Centre, buses will transport COMS delegates to Micralyne's fabrication facility in South Edmonton. Delegates will be treated to a BBQ feast, guided tours of Micralyne's facility, and an excellent networking opportunity.
::Register for COMS Now! (Early Bird ends June 30th)
Micralyne Offers Space on Upcoming Protolyne® Run
Micralyne is currently offering space on the upcoming Protolyne microfluidic chip fabrication run on a first-come first-serve basis. Please place your order early and prior to the deadline of July 16, 2004.
Protolyne is a development platform for semi-custom microfluidic chips that will be fabricated, based on a customer's design, quickly and for a reasonable price. Devices are run in large batches that contain many different designs, requiring customers to follow some simple design guidelines. Protolyne chips are useful within a variety of chemical and biochemical analyses using capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence. These chips are available in a few simple designs for single sample injection.
For more information, please contact Donna Bonsteel at +1.780.431.4406 or by email at email@example.com.
::Read Protolyne Info Online
Additional Reading & MEMS Industry Resources
Some additional reading that might be of interest to you in regard to Micralyne or the small tech industry is:
Small Tech Audio News - An online archive of audio interviews with influential people within the small tech industry.
MicroTAS 2004 - A major international conference on miniaturised systems for chemistry and life sciences.
COMS 2004 - COMS is the leading international conference on the commercialization of MEMS/MST/micromachining and nanotechnology.
MEMS Industry Group - The MEMS Industry Group (MIG) is the premier trade association representing the North American MEMS and Microstructure industries.