MRI: Development of a Multiscale Additive Manufacturing Instrument with Integrated 3D Printing and Robotic Assembly

The purpose of MRI project is development of the NeXus system, a novel instrument for automated flexible multiscale manufacturing of devices integrating Micro/Nano Opto Electro Mechanical Systems (MOEMS/NEMS). Nexus system will incorporate: precision robotic assembly, additive manufacturing, for fabrication and multiscale integration of miniature devices and systems, such as wearable MEMS sensor fabrics, microrobots for wafer scale microfactories, tactile robot skins, next generation energy storage, nanostructured plasmonic devices and biosensors.

The proposed instrument will have the flexibility to fixture, position, transport and assemble components across a wide-spectrum of dimension scales (100nm to 1m), and will provide unparalleled additive process capabilities such as 3D printing through both aerosol jetting and ultrasonic bonding and printing, thin film photonic sintering, fiber loom weaving and in-situ MEMS packaging and interconnect formation. The Nexus will automate basic processes such as additive deposition, sintering, assembly, and packaging leading to better control and consistency in development of micro/nanosystem prototypes.

Our instrument is located in the room 213 on the second floor of Shumaker Research Building, Belknap Campus. Nexus system includes the following components and subsystems:

  • 6 DOF Denso industrial robot VS-6577-B integrated with elevated XY gantry
  • 4 DOF Denso industrial robot HM-40A04 integrated with 1D Robot Transport Unit (RTU)
  • Custom 6 DOF positioner:
    • IAI long stroke motorized stage
    • Newport motorized stages: XYZ, tilt, and rotational.
  • Microassembly/inspection (microscopy) station
  • Optomec Decathlon Aerosol InkJet printing system
  • Customized FDM 3D printing system
  • Ultrasound FDM 3D printing station
  • Nordson Pico Pulse InkJet system
  • Xenon Corporation Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) system
  • Weaving (loom) station
  • Control system: workstation with National Instrument PXI controller

MRI project update

  1. a) We have finalized the hardware assembly of the Nexus system robotics tools: industrial robots, custom 6 DOF positioner, microassembly/inspection station. Evaluation of the 6 DOF Denso industrial robot is currently being conducted.
  2. b) The Nexus team is also working on control solutions based on the NI PXI platform. At this moment our main effort is dedicated to the development of the user interface based on the NI Labview in order to realize integration of the additive manufacturing (Optomec Aerosol InkJet printer, Nordson Pico Pulse, custom FM 3D printer) and robotics tools (6 DOF positioner).
  3. c) We are preparing the assembly of another important part of the Nexus system – the custom pick and place station for the printed circuit board (PCB) assembly integrated with the 4 DOF Denso robot. Part of the Nexus team is in the process of ordering parts and developing a custom control scheme for the PCB assembly process realized with the 4 DOF robotic arm.

NSF MRI project website

MRI project team

  • Dr. Dan Popa 
  • Dr. Thad Druffel 
  • Dr. Cindy Harnett 
  • Dr. Keng Hsu 
  • Dr. Kevin Walsh 
  • Dr. Moath Alqatamin 
  • Dr. Dilan Ratnayaki 
  • Dr. Andriy Sherehiy 
  • Dr. Alireza Tofangchi 
  • Dr. Ruoshi Zhang 
  • Doug Jackson 
  • Sushmita Challa 
  • Amirhossein Ghahremani 
  • Scott Nimon 
  • Olalekan O. Olowo 
  • Danming Wei 
  • Alex Curry 
  • Chris Trombley 
  • Max Carter