For the purpose of this study, the term micromanufacturing refers to the creation of high-precision three-dimensional (3D) products using a variety of materials and possessing features with sizes ranging from tens of micrometers to a few millimeters (See Figure 1.1). While microscale technologies are well established in the semiconductor and microelectronics fields, the same cannot be said for manufacturing products involving complex 3D geometry and high accuracies in a range of non-silicon materials. At the same time, the trends in industrial and military products that demand miniaturization, design flexibility, reduced energy consumption, and high accuracy continue to accelerate-especially in the medical, biotechnology, telecommunications, and energy fields. By and large, countries with traditional strengths in manufacturing, such as Japan and Germany, have continued to invest heavily in recent years in micromanufacturing R&D for several reasons. First, the demand from the global market for ever-smaller parts and systems at reasonable cost and superior performance is strong. This demand tends to drive the high-end research. Second, the prospects of multidisciplinary research are causing companies increasingly to blend material science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering to speed up technology innovation and thereby new applications based on microtechnology.
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