Latest Advancements in Micro Nano Molding Technologies – Process Developments and Optimization, Materials, Applications, Key Enabling Technologies

A special issue of Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X). This special issue belongs to the section "D:Materials and Processing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 76992

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Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Produktionstorvet Building 427A, 2800 Kgs., Lyngby, Denmark
Interests: micro- and nanoscale polymer manufacturing; micro- and nanometrology; additive manufacturing; surface replication
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Micro and nano molding technologies are continuously being developed due to enduring trends like increasing miniaturization and higher functional integration of products, devices, and systems. Furthermore, with the introduction of higher performance polymers, feedstocks, and composites, new opportunities in terms of materials properties can be exploited, and, consequently, more micro products and micro/nano-structured surfaces are currently being designed and manufactured.

Innovations in micro and nano molding techniques are seen in the different processes employed in production (injection molding, micro injection molding, powder micro molding, two-component molding, compression molding, hot embossing, nanoimprint lithography, etc.); on the use of new and functional materials including, e.g., nanocomposites; for an ever-increasing number of applications (health-care devices, micro implants, mobility, and communications products, optical elements, micro-electromechanical systems, sensors, micro molded interconnect devices, etc.); in several key enabling technologies that support the successful realization of micro and nano molding processes (micro and nano tooling technologies, process monitoring techniques, micro and nanometrology methods for quality control, simulation, rapid prototyping techniques for micro product development, etc.) and their integration into new manufacturing process chains.

Accordingly, this Special Issue seeks to showcase research papers, short communications, and review articles that focus on the latest developments in micro and nanoscale manufacturing by molding techniques as well as their related key enabling technologies for the production of both micro products and micro/nanostructured surfaces.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Prof. Guido Tosello
Guest Editor

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • molding
  • micro products
  • micro nano structured surfaces
  • tooling
  • simulation
  • materials
  • quality control
  • micro rapid prototyping

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 163 KiB  
Editorial
Latest Advancements in Micro Nano Molding Technologies—Process Developments and Optimization, Materials, Applications, Key Enabling Technologies
by Guido Tosello
Micromachines 2022, 13(4), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13040609 - 13 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1628
Abstract
Micro and nano molding technologies are continuously being developed due to enduring trends such as increasing miniaturization and the higher functional integration of products, devices and systems [...] Full article

Research

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20 pages, 48006 KiB  
Article
Functional Analysis Validation of Micro and Conventional Injection Molding Machines Performances Based on Process Precision and Accuracy for Micro Manufacturing
by Matteo Calaon, Federico Baruffi, Gualtiero Fantoni, Ilenia Cirri, Marco Santochi, Hans Nørgaard Hansen and Guido Tosello
Micromachines 2020, 11(12), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11121115 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3469
Abstract
Micro polymer parts can be usually manufactured either by conventional injection moulding (IM) or by micro-injection moulding (µIM). In this paper, functional analysis was used as a tool to investigate the performances of IM and µIM used to manufacture the selected industrial component. [...] Read more.
Micro polymer parts can be usually manufactured either by conventional injection moulding (IM) or by micro-injection moulding (µIM). In this paper, functional analysis was used as a tool to investigate the performances of IM and µIM used to manufacture the selected industrial component. The methodology decomposed the production cycle phases of the two processes and attributed functions to parts features of the two investigated machines. The output of the analysis was aimed to determine casual chains leading to the final outcome of the process. Experimental validation of the functional analysis was carried out moulding the same micro medical part in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material using the two processes by means of multi-cavity moulds. The produced batches were assessed using a precision scale and a high accuracy optical instrument. The measurement results were compared using capability indexes. The data-driven comparison identified and quantified the correlations between machine design and part quality, demonstrating that the µIM machine technology better meets the accuracy and precision requirements typical of micro manufacturing productions. Full article
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17 pages, 10902 KiB  
Article
Experimental Validation of Injection Molding Simulations of 3D Microparts and Microstructured Components Using Virtual Design of Experiments and Multi-Scale Modeling
by Dario Loaldi, Francesco Regi, Federico Baruffi, Matteo Calaon, Danilo Quagliotti, Yang Zhang and Guido Tosello
Micromachines 2020, 11(6), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11060614 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 4121
Abstract
The increasing demand for micro-injection molding process technology and the corresponding micro-molded products have materialized in the need for models and simulation capabilities for the establishment of a digital twin of the manufacturing process. The opportunities enabled by the correct process simulation include [...] Read more.
The increasing demand for micro-injection molding process technology and the corresponding micro-molded products have materialized in the need for models and simulation capabilities for the establishment of a digital twin of the manufacturing process. The opportunities enabled by the correct process simulation include the possibility of forecasting the part quality and finding optimal process conditions for a given product. The present work displays further use of micro-injection molding process simulation for the prediction of feature dimensions and its optimization and microfeature replication behavior due to geometrical boundary effects. The current work focused on the micro-injection molding of three-dimensional microparts and of single components featuring microstructures. First, two virtual a studies were performed to predict the outer diameter of a micro-ring within an accuracy of 10 µm and the flash formation on a micro-component with mass a 0.1 mg. In the second part of the study, the influence of microstructure orientation on the filling time of a microcavity design section was investigated for a component featuring micro grooves with a 15 µm nominal height. Multiscale meshing was employed to model the replication of microfeatures in a range of 17–346 µm in a Fresnel lens product, allowing the prediction of the replication behavior of a microfeature at 91% accuracy. The simulations were performed using 3D modeling and generalized Navier–Stokes equations using a single multi-scale simulation approach. The current work shows the current potential and limitations in the use of micro-injection molding process simulations for the optimization of micro 3D-part and microstructured components. Full article
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13 pages, 5572 KiB  
Article
Hybrid Process Chain for the Integration of Direct Ink Writing and Polymer Injection Molding
by Dario Loaldi, Leonardo Piccolo, Eric Brown, Guido Tosello, Corey Shemelya and Davide Masato
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050509 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3537
Abstract
The integration of additive manufacturing direct-writing technologies with injection molding provides a novel method to combine functional features into plastic products, and could enable mass-manufacturing of custom-molded plastic parts. In this work, direct-write technology is used to deposit conductive ink traces on the [...] Read more.
The integration of additive manufacturing direct-writing technologies with injection molding provides a novel method to combine functional features into plastic products, and could enable mass-manufacturing of custom-molded plastic parts. In this work, direct-write technology is used to deposit conductive ink traces on the surface of an injection mold. After curing on the mold surface, the printed trace is transferred into the plastic part by exploiting the high temperature and pressure of a thermoplastic polymer melt flow. The transfer of the traces is controlled by interlocking with the polymer system, which creates strong plastic/ink interfacial bonding. The hybrid process chain uses designed mold/ink surface interactions to manufacture stable ink/polymer interfaces. Here, the process chain is proposed and validated through systematic interfacial analysis including feature fidelity, mechanical properties, adhesion, mold topography, surface energy, and hot polymer contact angle. Full article
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9 pages, 2476 KiB  
Article
Effect of the Thermal History on the Crystallinity of Poly (L-lactic Acid) During the Micromolding Process
by Hiroaki Takehara, Yuki Hadano, Yukihiro Kanda and Takanori Ichiki
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050452 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2932
Abstract
The micromolding process using biocompatible thermoplastic polymers is highly attractive as a fabrication process of microdevices in biomedical applications. In this study, we investigated the effect of the thermal history in the micromolding process on the crystallinity of semi-crystalline polymers, such as poly [...] Read more.
The micromolding process using biocompatible thermoplastic polymers is highly attractive as a fabrication process of microdevices in biomedical applications. In this study, we investigated the effect of the thermal history in the micromolding process on the crystallinity of semi-crystalline polymers, such as poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA), during their crystallization from the amorphous and molten states. In particular, the thermal history in the micromolding process using poly(dimethylsiloxane) replica mold embedded with a thermocouple was recorded. The crystallinity of PLLA constructs fabricated using the micromolding process was measured via wide-angle X-ray scattering, and crystallization kinetics was analyzed based on the Kolmogorov–Johnson–Mehl–Avrami equation. A crystallization rate of k = 0.061 minn was obtained in the micromolding process of PLLA crystallization from the amorphous state, accompanied by the quenching operation, forming a large number of crystal nuclei. Finally, the fabrication of PLLA microneedles was performed using micromolding processes with different thermal histories. The information about the thermal history during the micromolding process is significant in the development of polymer microdevices to achieve better material properties. Full article
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11 pages, 4072 KiB  
Article
Blister Formation in Film Insert Moulding
by Timo Wöhner, Aminul Islam, Hans N. Hansen, Guido Tosello and Ben R. Whiteside
Micromachines 2020, 11(4), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11040424 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2493
Abstract
The formation of blister in the injection moulded parts, especially in the film insert moulded parts, is one of most significant causes of part rejection due to cosmetic requirements or functionality issues. The mechanism and physics of blister formation for molded parts are [...] Read more.
The formation of blister in the injection moulded parts, especially in the film insert moulded parts, is one of most significant causes of part rejection due to cosmetic requirements or functionality issues. The mechanism and physics of blister formation for molded parts are not well-understood by the state-of-the-art literature. The current paper increases the fundamental understanding of the causes for blister formation. In the experiment, a membrane strip of 5 mm in width was overmoulded with Polypropylene (PP), which formed a disc-shaped part with a diameter of 17.25 mm and a thickness of 500 µm. To investigate the influence of the processing parameters, a full factorial design of experiments (DoE) setup was conducted, including mould temperature (Tm), barrel temperature (Tb), injection speed (Vi) and packing pressure (Pp) as variables. The degree of blistering at the surface was characterized by the areal surface roughness parameters Spk and Smr1, measured with a confocal laser microscope. The measurements were taken on the 10 mm long section of the membrane surface in the centre of the moulded part across the entire width of the film. In addition, the film insert moulding (FIM)-process was simulated and the average shrinkage of the substrate material under the membrane was investigated. Eventually, a method and processing window could be defined that could produce blister-free parts. Full article
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14 pages, 4626 KiB  
Article
High Temperature Adiabatic Heating in µ-IM Mould Cavities—A Case for Venting Design Solutions
by Matthew Tucker, Christian A. Griffiths, Andrew Rees and Gethin Llewelyn
Micromachines 2020, 11(4), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11040358 - 30 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2395
Abstract
Micro-injection moulding (µ-IM) is a fabrication method that is used to produce miniature parts on a mass production scale. This work investigates how the process parameter settings result in adiabatic heating from gas trapped and rapidly compressed within the mould cavity. The heating [...] Read more.
Micro-injection moulding (µ-IM) is a fabrication method that is used to produce miniature parts on a mass production scale. This work investigates how the process parameter settings result in adiabatic heating from gas trapped and rapidly compressed within the mould cavity. The heating of the resident air can result in the diesel effect within the cavity and this can degrade the polymer part in production and lead to damage of the mould. The study uses Autodesk Moldflow to simulate the process and identify accurate boundary conditions to be used in a gas law model to generate an informed prediction of temperatures within the moulding cavity. The results are then compared to physical experiments using the same processing parameters. Findings from the study show that without venting extreme temperature conditions can be present during the filling stage of the process and that venting solutions should be considered when using µ-IM. Full article
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12 pages, 2289 KiB  
Article
Effects of Machining Errors on Optical Performance of Optical Aspheric Components in Ultra-Precision Diamond Turning
by Yingchun Li, Yaoyao Zhang, Jieqiong Lin, Allen Yi and Xiaoqin Zhou
Micromachines 2020, 11(3), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11030331 - 23 Mar 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2650
Abstract
Optical aspheric components are inevitably affected by various disturbances during their precision machining, which reduces the actual machining accuracy and affects the optical performance of components. In this paper, based on the theory of multi-body system, we established a machining error model for [...] Read more.
Optical aspheric components are inevitably affected by various disturbances during their precision machining, which reduces the actual machining accuracy and affects the optical performance of components. In this paper, based on the theory of multi-body system, we established a machining error model for optical aspheric surface machined by fast tool servo turning and analyzed the effect of the geometric errors on the machining accuracy of optical aspheric surface. We used the method of ray tracing to analyze the effect of the surface form distortion caused by the machining error on the optical performance, and identified the main machining errors according to the optical performance. Finally, the aspheric surface was successfully applied to the design of optical lens components for an aerial camera. Our research has a certain guiding significance for the identification and compensation of machining errors of optical components. Full article
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13 pages, 7449 KiB  
Article
Microinjection Molding of Out-of-Plane Bistable Mechanisms
by Wook-Bae Kim and Sol-Yi Han
Micromachines 2020, 11(2), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11020155 - 30 Jan 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5414
Abstract
We present a novel fabrication technique of a miniaturized out-of-plane compliant bistable mechanism (OBM) by microinjection molding (MM) and assembling. OBMs are mostly in-plane monolithic devices containing delicate elastic elements fabricated in metal, plastic, or by a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) process. The proposed [...] Read more.
We present a novel fabrication technique of a miniaturized out-of-plane compliant bistable mechanism (OBM) by microinjection molding (MM) and assembling. OBMs are mostly in-plane monolithic devices containing delicate elastic elements fabricated in metal, plastic, or by a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) process. The proposed technique is based on stacking two out-of-plane V-beam structures obtained by mold fabrication and MM of thermoplastic polyacetal resin (POM) and joining their centers and outer frames to construct a double V-beam structure. A copper alloy mold insert was machined with the sectional dimensions of the V-beam cavities. Next, the insert was re-machined to reduce dimensional errors caused by part shrinkage. The V-beam structure was injection-molded at a high temperature. Gradually elongated short-shots were obtained by increasing pressure, showing the symmetrical melt filling through the V-beam cavities. The as-molded structure was buckled elastically by an external-force load but showed a monostable behavior because of a higher unconstrained buckling mode. The double V-beam device assembled with two single-molded structures shows clear bistability. The experimental force-displacement curve of the molded structure is presented for examination. This work can potentially contribute to the fabrication of architected materials with periodic assembly of the plastic bistable mechanism for diverse functionalities, such as energy absorption and shape morphing. Full article
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12 pages, 5125 KiB  
Article
Optimization of Nozzle Inclination and Process Parameters in Air-Shielding Electrochemical Micromachining
by Minghuan Wang, Yongchao Shang, Kailei He, Xuefeng Xu and Guoda Chen
Micromachines 2019, 10(12), 846; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10120846 - 4 Dec 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2788
Abstract
Microstructures on metal surfaces with diameters of tens to hundreds of micrometers and depths of several micrometers to tens of micrometers can improve the performance of engineering parts. Air-shielding electrochemical micromachining (AS-EMM) is a promising method for fabricating these microstructures, owing to its [...] Read more.
Microstructures on metal surfaces with diameters of tens to hundreds of micrometers and depths of several micrometers to tens of micrometers can improve the performance of engineering parts. Air-shielding electrochemical micromachining (AS-EMM) is a promising method for fabricating these microstructures, owing to its advantage of high efficient and better localization. However, the machining performance is often influenced by the machining or nonmachining parameters in AS-EMM. In order to get a better machining result in AS-EMM, the optimization of AS-EMM, including nozzle inclination and process parameters, was studied in this paper. Firstly, nozzle inclination was optimized by the different selected air incidence angles (θ) in simulation, and θ = π/4 was advised. Then, the grey relational analysis based on the orthogonal test method was used to analyze the grey relational grade for parameters and obtain the optimal parameter combination, i.e., at electrolyte velocity 5.5 m/s, gas velocity 160 m/s, and voltage 8 V. Finally, the optimization result was verified experimentally. Full article
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13 pages, 5132 KiB  
Article
Molecular Dynamics Simulations on the Demolding Process for Nanostructures with Different Aspect Ratios in Injection Molding
by Can Weng, Dongjiao Yang and Mingyong Zhou
Micromachines 2019, 10(10), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10100636 - 23 Sep 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2750
Abstract
Injection molding is one of the most potential techniques for fabricating polymeric products in large numbers. The filling process, but also the demolding process, influence the quality of injection-molded nanostructures. In this study, nano-cavities with different depth-to-width ratios (D/W) were built and molecular [...] Read more.
Injection molding is one of the most potential techniques for fabricating polymeric products in large numbers. The filling process, but also the demolding process, influence the quality of injection-molded nanostructures. In this study, nano-cavities with different depth-to-width ratios (D/W) were built and molecular dynamics simulations on the demolding process were conducted. Conformation change and density distribution were analyzed. Interfacial adhesion was utilized to investigate the interaction mechanism between polypropylene (PP) and nickel mold insert. The results show that the separation would first happen at the shoulder of the nanostructures. Nanostructures and the whole PP layer are both stretched, resulting in a sharp decrease in average density after demolding. The largest increase in the radius of gyration and lowest velocity can be observed in 3:1 nanostructure during the separation. Deformation on nanostructure occurs, but nevertheless the whole structure is still in good shape. The adhesion energy gets higher with the increase of D/W. The demolding force increases quickly to the peak point and then gradually decreases to zero. The majority of the force comes from the adhesion and friction on the nanostructure due to the interfacial interaction. Full article
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Review

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25 pages, 3926 KiB  
Review
Grating Couplers on Silicon Photonics: Design Principles, Emerging Trends and Practical Issues
by Lirong Cheng, Simei Mao, Zhi Li, Yaqi Han and H. Y. Fu
Micromachines 2020, 11(7), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11070666 - 8 Jul 2020
Cited by 134 | Viewed by 32653 | Correction
Abstract
Silicon photonics is an enabling technology that provides integrated photonic devices and systems with low-cost mass manufacturing capability. It has attracted increasing attention in both academia and industry in recent years, not only for its applications in communications, but also in sensing. One [...] Read more.
Silicon photonics is an enabling technology that provides integrated photonic devices and systems with low-cost mass manufacturing capability. It has attracted increasing attention in both academia and industry in recent years, not only for its applications in communications, but also in sensing. One important issue of silicon photonics that comes with its high integration density is an interface between its high-performance integrated waveguide devices and optical fibers or free-space optics. Surface grating coupler is a preferred candidate that provides flexibility for circuit design and reduces effort for both fabrication and alignment. In the past decades, considerable research efforts have been made on in-plane grating couplers to address their insufficiency in coupling efficiency, wavelength sensitivity and polarization sensitivity compared with out-of-plane edge-coupling. Apart from improved performances, new functionalities are also on the horizon for grating couplers. In this paper, we review the current research progresses made on grating couplers, starting from their fundamental theories and concepts. Then, we conclude various methods to improve their performance, including coupling efficiency, polarization and wavelength sensitivity. Finally, we discuss some emerging research topics on grating couplers, as well as practical issues such as testing, packaging and promising applications. Full article
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16 pages, 2206 KiB  
Review
State-of-the-Art and Perspectives on Silicon Waveguide Crossings: A Review
by Sailong Wu, Xin Mu, Lirong Cheng, Simei Mao and H.Y. Fu
Micromachines 2020, 11(3), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11030326 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 44 | Viewed by 7626
Abstract
In the past few decades, silicon photonics has witnessed a ramp-up of investment in both research and industry. As a basic building block, silicon waveguide crossing is inevitable for dense silicon photonic integrated circuits and efficient crossing designs will greatly improve the performance [...] Read more.
In the past few decades, silicon photonics has witnessed a ramp-up of investment in both research and industry. As a basic building block, silicon waveguide crossing is inevitable for dense silicon photonic integrated circuits and efficient crossing designs will greatly improve the performance of photonic devices with multiple crossings. In this paper, we focus on the state-of-the-art and perspectives on silicon waveguide crossings. It reviews several classical structures in silicon waveguide crossing design, such as shaped taper, multimode interference, subwavelength grating, holey subwavelength grating and vertical directional coupler by forward or inverse design method. In addition, we introduce some emerging research directions in crossing design including polarization-division-multiplexing and mode-division-multiplexing technologies. Full article
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Other

1 pages, 178 KiB  
Correction
Correction: Cheng et al. Grating Couplers on Silicon Photonics: Design Principles, Emerging Trends and Practical Issues. Micromachines 2020, 11, 666
by Lirong Cheng, Simei Mao, Zhi Li, Yaqi Han and H. Y. Fu
Micromachines 2022, 13(4), 606; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13040606 - 13 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1259
Abstract
In the original publication [...] Full article
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