On August 31st, I will be presenting a talk at the COMS/MANCEF conference (http://www.mancef.org/coms2011). I will be discussing the transition from early prototyping with 10 to 50 parts in a batch, to low volumes with hundreds to thousands of parts in a batch. The key is for the client and the manufacturer to work together to develop appropriate in process quality control, 100% QC inspection by both parties to verify quality before using the part, and to expect some design changes to be required to reduce the scrap rate and improve device to device performance. Another critical consideration is to evaluate the robustness of the microfluidic cartridge and instrument interface to reduce device to device performance variability.
Archive for August, 2011
The Future Manufacturing Conference, held August 8 -10th in Napa Valley (www.mfg2011.org) was sponsored by the Transducer Research Foundation, and organized by Prof. Marty Schmidt, from MIT and Prof. Tom Kenney, from Stanford University. A sobering presentation on America’s competitiveness was given by Dr. Greg Tassey, from the economic analysis office at NIST, which suggested that America’s long-standing lack of an economic policy to ensure new innovations mature to commercialization has lead to a decline in our competitiveness in manufacturing. The so-called ‘valley of death’, in which the new innovations die for lack of funding before becoming commercially viable, has exacerbated the decline in new US-based manufacturing infrastructure. Combine that with economic policies by foreign governments that encourage US companies to invest in overseas manufacturing, and we find a dearth of new jobs in the near term that will be generated by growth in manufacturing. The remedy? As you might guess, it is a complex and multifaceted issue that involves government investment to bridge the valley of death, as well as changes in our education system to train more workers for the manufacturing sector. Companies, too, need incentives to invest in America. I believe that companies like ALine represent the future of new manufacturing capability. By innovating the use of well-known tools for rapid prototyping and low volume manufacturing , we are pioneering new manufacturing infrastructure. Our emphasis on low to mid-volume manufacturing with a flexible, readily customized process, represents the kind of manufacturing infrastructure that will create new competitive capabilities in a market that has yet to mature. In keeping with a pioneering spirit, the ability to do more with less, and a can-do attitude, our emphasis has been to use easy-to-scale tools to create highly functional microfluidic devices.