With miniaturization becoming the latest trend globally, micromachining gaining importance in manufacturing micro parts. Many surgeries and various Diagnoses can be possible without pain with the miniaturization of medical tools.
Micromachining may refer to the process and techniques for the construction of various structures of 2D and 3D on the micron scale. The small parts used for the aim of making watches were considered microelements until recently. Micromachining is the technology that manufactures micro-sized structures.
The design of manufacturing and construction of tools, cutting tools, tool holders, and electrodes need regular advancements as huge demands are placed on them for producing these miniature/small parts. New changes in micromachining show that micro-cutting processes are not the only miniaturization of the standard cutting technology, and needs an overhaul of the whole machining setup and processes.
Various works of Industry show that attention in producing microscopic scale is significantly growing with respect to the huge extension of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Hence, a great amount of demand is there to improve existing technology and developing nonconventional methods, in order to obtain more accuracy.
Various techniques of MEMS such as photolithography, LIGA, chemical-etching, and plating are used. These elements have a great impact on micro-electric or semiconductors manufacturing. Additionally, the elements are useful in the manufacturing of huge volumes, especially sensors and actuators which are made of silicon or other metals.
Micromachining is a specific kind of technique that is applied to parts of the micro-scale. Micro Electro Mechanical System (MEMS) is the device of the microscopic level which is designed and used for interaction or improvement of the local environment. MEMS include microstructure technology, mechatronics, microstructures, and Microsystems. MEMS also include different devices with movable parts that contain both mechanical and electrical elements on silicon.
There are different kinds of vital techniques that are used for micromachinings such as micromechanical machining (micro-cutting and micro-milling), photolithography, micro-EDM, and laser.
1. Micro Ultrasonic Machining
In the process of micro ultrasonic machining, micro tools like ultrasonic vibration are used to create precise holes in brittle materials like silicon, glass, and ceramics. There is an interposing of abrasive slurry between tool and workpiece and that tool is used as a micro-mill to get drills or patterns on the workpiece surface. The vibrating tool impacts abrasive grains into the workpiece than a mechanical removal of the material.
2. Micro Electronic Discharge (EDM) Machining
In EDM, the material of an electric discharge between the conductive tool and workpiece is removed using erosive action. Small craters are produced in the piece by Electro-thermal erosion during the machining process. While tool shape is copied in the workpiece, there is no contact. The process and design of EDM machining assist in machining both hard materials like carbides and steels and conductive ceramics and semiconductors.
3. Laser Micromachining
In this type of micromachining, high energy light radiation is used by laser as a machine tool. Through this process, high precision can be achieved, and the removal of material is obtained by ablation. Ceramic and metal layers machining can be done with higher laser densities. A focused beam can allow real 3D shaping by correcting motion control.
4. Lithographic Process
In micromachining, it is a common technique that is based on lithographic approach and silicon, by etching and deposing process which is used in microelectronics. Chemical or physical etch is used in machining silicon wafers. Then, various parts are realized layer by layer from a silicon wafer. This method is purely non-contact that is based on masking and light exposure.
The new trends in miniaturization technologies will emerge as a potential technology of the future which could bring completely different ways in which people and machines co-exist and interact with each other and the physical world.
The recent developments of micro-miniaturization of the products especially in the field of the microsystem technology (MST) or microelectromechanical system (MEMS) have known to create a deep impact on the industry.
A major advantage of micromachining technology is its ability to fabricate significantly smaller features reliably at very high tolerances. However, micromachining technology still needs various improvements and developments.
Regarding rates of higher material removal and selection of process parameters in order to get a stable cutting process, compared with other contemporary techniques, micromachining still provides benefits like low cost of production, the small size of batch and the capacity to manufacture accurate 3D free-form surfaces in various sorts of materials.
Though lithography-based manufacturing can achieve feature size of small length, still micromachining has many advantages over it in terms of material choices, relative accuracy, and complexity of produced geometry. Moreover, the technology is very optimistic to the extent that it can bridge the gap between macro and nano/micro domain.
Recent demands and needs for such microelements have forced the technology to produce different types of micro components used in various fields such as biomedical implants and entertainment electronics. The ease and usefulness of various products can be significantly improved with decreased weight and size.
Considering the benefits and future demands, it can be said that the micromachining market will flourish more in the coming years owing to its different benefits and applications in various domains.
Since its inception, the technology of micromachining has seen the development of a great degree to include various new techniques, processes, and tool designs. Additionally, the array of materials being processed under these techniques has been expanded. With the ever-increasing demand for miniaturized tools and various types of equipment, the notion of micromachining becomes significantly important.
Though traditional machine are capable of conducting micromachining processes, the full potential of micromachining can be achieved by employing machine tools that are specially designed for this purpose. The advantage of such micro machine tools and micro-factories are numerous such as mobility, flexibility, and various other economic benefits.
There are various beneficial applications of this technology in different fields. Technology has been the driver for innovation and developments in many domains such as the automotive and biomedical engineering fields.