Metrology for highly-parallel manufacturing is an essential enabling technology for the quality control of tomorrow’s everyday devices.

Highly-parallel manufacturing (HPM) is as revolutionary for device production as Gutenberg’s printing press.

HPM exploits conventional printing, injection moulding and roll-to-roll embossing methods to cut the manufacturing costs of products.

Feature-dense parts are fabricated in large parallel arrays, on wide substrates, and at high speed.

The HPM metrology challenge

Novel inline metrology must solve the conflict between large substrate, high-throughput processes and small critical 3D features and alignment precision, whilst reducing implementation costs and skill barriers in HPM quality control, especially for Europe’s SMEs.

The MetHPM response

MetHPM will result in order of magnitude improvements, in terms of simultaneous speed and accuracy, in state of the art highly parallel manufacturing (HPM) techniques such as roll-to-roll (R2R) embossing and injection moulding.

HPM 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.

MetHPM will deliver targeted inline metrology tools for defect detection, substrate tracking and critical dimension measurement for efficient diagnostic activity and process feedback, including the measurement traceability and standards for such metrology tools.

MetHPM project objectives

MetHPM will lead to the development of smarter inspection metrology for HPM by tackling key gaps in metrology capabilities. The overall objective of MetHPM is to equip and skill industry to make traceable measurements of surface features on large-area substrates, to track the position of substrates, and to enable quality control for HPM methods. The specific technical objectives of the project are to:

  • Develop more accurate measurement techniques for 2D/3D surface structure – targeting 1 µm lateral and 0.1 µm height resolution, using a three-stage hybrid approach involving: 2D vision/novel imaging (defect detection); faster topography sensors (defect measurement) and utilising a priori knowledge (bandwidth mitigation). This includes inline metrology support for large-area, often transparent or non-reflective, substrates up to 1.5 m in width.
  • Improve metrology for handling large-area substrates – targeting 1 µm overlay accuracy measurement for sheet-to-sheet (S2S) and R2R applications through a mixture of: modelling of deformations; developing a high-resolution camera-based system; and preparing and testing novel inline registration based on optical gratings.
  • Define and characterise surface measurement parameters – to achieve correlation between surface parameters and functional behaviour of the manufactured item, in order to use this information in real-time process control.
  • Demonstrate potential process improvements available through the application of new data – by running a series of test cases through all the technical work of the project, involving traceable, industry-accessible, transferable methods that are readily exploitable.
  • Provide the missing traceability infrastructure – by providing transfer artefacts, reference level instrumentation and new measurement methods that are self-referencing.

For more details of the metrology need, planned results and expected impact, please download the MetHPM Publishable Summary