Business models and applications for micro and desktop production systems
Nurmi, Anssi Tapani
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Liiketoimintamallit ja sovellukset mikro- ja desktoptehtaille
The terms microfactory and desktop factory originates from Japan in the 1990’s. Small machines were developed to produce small parts and save resources. In the late 1990’s, the research spread around the world, and multiple miniaturized concepts were introduced. However, the level of commercialization remains low. More empirical evidence and business aspect is needed. This thesis discusses how the systems can be used and how the providers benefit of it, now and in the future. The research includes 18 semi-structured interviews in Europe. The interviewees are both from academic and industry, including equipment and component providers, and users and potential users. According to the interviews, research and the industry have different viewpoints to the miniaturization. Within the academics, miniaturization links to a general philosophy to match the products in size. In the industry, the small size is only a secondary sales argument. The main factors preventing breakthrough are the lack of small subsystems, the lack of examples and production engineers’ attitudes. It appears that the technology is in the beginning of the S-curve, and it has systematic development as well as slow technology diffusion. More cooperation and a large scale demonstration are needed. In the literature, there are multiple applications. The MEMS industry is stated as one promising industry. The research aims usually for high level of automation. Based on interviews, the systems are used as a semi-automatic tool for component manufacturing and assembly. In the future, educational and laboratory use as well as prototyping are promising. Local cleanrooms interest but questions arise. In addition, retail level personalization, home fabrication and the MEMS industry include problems. For providers, the technology offers two promising customer segments (Lean manufacturers and fully loaded factories), few additional segments (e.g. educational, laboratories and offices) and it eases some alternative charging models (e.g. leasing, and capacity sales).