A teaching factory for polymer microfabrication – μFac
As part of the Singapore MIT Alliance (SMA) we have established the Center for Polymer Microfabrication (CPM) with an initial focus on processes and systems related to volume production of microfluidic devices. This research has focused on topics as diverse as material processing property characterisation and simulation, tooling and equipment design and control, and process control and metrology. This paper details a unique project undertaken by this group to explore how all this related by disparate research can be combined to actually produce functional products in volume at acceptable production rates and quality levels. The goals of this work are not only to test the individual research findings of the group, but to explore and experience the needs that are added by such a production goal. For example we found that rate is an overwhelming constraint, and that tooling and fixturing are major requirements for successful production. Also, our metrology methods had to be adapted to meet our rate goals, which were set at a Takt time of less than four minutes.