EMPIR project delivers new measurement systems for highly-parallel manufacturing

Printed circuit board

Research enables order of magnitude improvements for European advanced manufacturing to quality-control tomorrow’s everyday devices

EMPIR project ‘Metrology for highly-parallel manufacturing’ (14IND09 MetHPM) has delivered measurement capabilities, enabling order of magnitude improvements for speed and accuracy, in state-of-the-art highly-parallel manufacturing techniques such as roll-to-roll embossing and injection moulding.

Highly parallel manufacturing methods are increasingly being exploited in the production of large-area devices such as printed electronics, flexible photovoltaics and smart packaging, which have sub-micrometre scale features and/or structured surfaces that are critical to bulk sensing, optical, mechanical and/or aesthetic function.

Highlights of the project include the following inline measurement tools, for which industry have already shown an interest:

  • NPL’s high precision position referencing system uses optical techniques to measure the motion of transparent flexible substrates, enabling high volume production for the next generation of advanced manufacturing on roll-to-roll fabrication platforms. In contrast to the low sampling rate and resolution offered by standard machine vision based systems, this system gives low noise, high precision measurements at the rapid sampling rates needed for advanced web handling and fabrication processes (a web is a long, thin and flexible material). 
  • DFM constructed and successfully demonstrated a portable spectroscopic scatterometer for in-situ characterisation of polymer injection moulding of different nanostructures. This system was successfully used in field trials, giving real time process feedback for moulding quality. This new system can potentially increase the speed and efficiency of injection moulding production by providing in-line optimisation of the moulding parameters and reducing scrap rates.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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Figure: a) A calculated back focal plane image with θ=70°, ϕ=345° and z0 = 60nm. b) A measured back focal plane image of an NV-center. From J. Christinck et al., Appl. Phys. B 126, 161 (2020). Copyright PTB, published with kind permission of PTB
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