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Multi-function miniaturised components and coatings

13 June 2016

Goodfellow and the German technology company Acquandas have formed a new partnership to offer device manufacturers micro-patterned, 2D and 2.5D integrated multi-function miniaturised components and coatings with enhanced performance properties.

Acquandas facilities on the University of Kiel campus

This thin film technology, which can be as thin as 5µm (~0.0002in) up to 80µm (~0.0031in), is produced by Acquandas in a range of materials. This is including Nitinol (NiTi), other superelastic/shape memory alloys, bioresorbable alloys, magnetic materials, electrical alloys and insulators. Leading manufacturing companies in healthcare and other industries looking to overcome limitations with existing miniaturised components will be able to benefit from this new thin film materials technology, now available via Goodfellow, to develop next generation smart devices and instrumentation.  

All miniaturised components are custom designed and manufactured to order from CAD drawings using the proven thin film microsystem processes and techniques developed by the founders of Acquandas.

According to Acquandas and supported by several peer reviewed published articles in key material science journals, it can batch manufacture the thinnest film based NiTi ‘smart alloy’ metallic components currently available. NiTi metallic components have been successfully produced by the Acquandas team at sub 80µm miniaturisation levels down to as thin as 5µm with feature resolution of 1-10µm (compared with 15µm ± 5µm for a conventional NiTi film)  and with a very high level of purity. The high purity of the Acquandas NiTi film results in significantly enhanced ‘ultralow’ fatigue endurance capabilities of its shape memory alloy thin films, proven under controlled test conditions, to be able to perform at least 10 million transformation cycles without any changes in functional behaviour (NiTiCu alloy).

Independent comparative tests of conventional NiTi and Acquandas sputtered thin films have been carried out and published by Siekmeyer et al. in the Journal of Material Engineering and Performance. Their findings include comparative graphs and data tables which show the mechanical properties and fatigue behaviour of the Acquandas NiTi thin film, most notably up to 200 percent higher fatigue alternating strain data, reaching 1.4-1.5 percent (@ mean strain 1.5-2.0 percent) compared with only ~0.5 percent alternating strain levels for the conventional NiTi tested.

Miniaturised NiTi metallic components have been produced down to as thin as 5µm up to 80µm with feature resolution of 1-10µm

The proprietary Acquandas microsystem technology and techniques incorporate three key process interfaces: UV-lithography, magnetron sputtering and wet chemical etching, with final stages of the production process being heat treatment and shape setting. Two thin film fabrication modes are available to cover both initial new product development (for prototype and small volume development) and full scale manufacturing (for high volume production). Goodfellow will also provide customers with FEM and CAD based design training with this thin film technology and welcomes design development partner collaboration.

Acquandas thin film technology based components now offer device manufacturers major step change benefits in design scope, performance and product capabilities. Complex, next generation miniaturised smart devices can now be cost effectively developed and batch manufactured with significantly higher mechanical properties, increased integrated device functionality and a longer service life.

New application opportunities are currently under development in healthcare to manufacture the next generation of self–expanding, biocompatible and bioresorbable implant devices and intelligent medical instruments. This miniaturised technology is also being increasingly applied in defence, aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, test equipment and manufacturing automation applications. Examples of industrial applications include the use of shape memory alloy based electrical actuators for robotic applications and latest microelectromechanical (MEMS) technology to manufacture miniaturised electronic relays, position sensing linear actuators, micro relays, micro valves and micro pumps.        

This new partnership with Acquandas is part of an ongoing strategic focus by Goodfellow to expand its portfolio of materials and services for its global research and industry customer base, to be able to supply the very latest materials commercially available.  

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