Skip to main content

Small but smart: the incredible expansion of micro products

Downsizing devices while adding extra features is the remit of the Small Lab, the Sirris unit specialising in miniaturisation for product development. The potential applications, for example in the biomedical sector, just keep on growing.

Sirris is continuing to invest in the development of miniaturisation technologies and to provide support to industry as it works on optimising smart miniature solutions. Two trends were confirmed in 2016: first, these new technologies' appeal to the biomedical sector, and second, the growing multidisciplinarity of developments, which now encompass mechanics, electronics, and optics.

Projects in 2016

Appeal to the biomedical sector

One of Sirris's flagship projects for 2016 was its optimisation of a series of micro-components acting as an interface for a prospective biomedical analysis platform under development at Analis. These parts provide the link between micro-conduits (capillaries) where the fluids to be analysed are prepared, and the platform where they are analysed. EyeD Pharma called on Sirris's expertise in micro-engineering to machine a component with ultra-precision for future medical micro-implants.

Portable solutions and functionalized surfaces

A company called Symbiose contacted Sirris with a view to miniaturising a concept for analysing toxic substances in the building and construction industry, and making it into a portable solution that is transportable on site. Sirris also helped to simplify the analysis protocol to ensure it could be executed by non-specialist personnel. This Belgian expertise is also being exported to the United States, with Binghamton University getting in touch with Sirris's Small Lab to texture micro-surfaces at the micrometer scale and create a friction differential (entailing the ability to slide an object in one direction but not in the other).

Micro-components integrating mechanical, electronic, and optical aspects

For a manufacturer of industrial machinery, Sirris has developed an ultra-high-performance optical micro-sensor. This involved working with the University of Liège on optimising a geometric design of optical components improving the detection of information. Sirris brought this optical design together with the sensor's electronic components as part of a mechanical assembly specially designed to withstand the very tough conditions in which this machinery is used.

Research projects

Sirris remains at the leading edge of knowledge thanks to various research projects launched in 2016. Specifically, the Small Lab is involved in two European projects (within the framework of Manunet) aimed at integrating new smart functions into glass (Novaglass project) and medical implants (SINKµLAR project). At regional level, Sirris is involved in the development of portable and miniaturised devices, in particular for blood-test analyses at patients' bedside, and for quick analysis of pathogens using a smart micro-fluidic chip.

At the leading edge of technology

In 2016, Sirris obtained the necessary funding (within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund - ERDF) to further develop its capabilities in prototyping and constructing demonstrators. In this context, an innovative polymer molding technology will be available in 2017. This will provide a micro-replication solution compatible with heat-sensitive materials, and will allow for very special geometries (very thin walls, high aspect ratios). In addition, a new 3D printer will enable ultra-precision prototyping of microscopic parts.

Moments of inspiration

Agoria Roadshow: "Explore the Small Lab"

Sirris opened the 2016 series of roadshows organised by Agoria by letting Belgian companies know about the research centers available to them, with an event focusing on miniaturization.

BioWin Day: Sirris stand

The Walloon biomedical competitiveness cluster's information day attracted a host of businesspeople involved in the development of biomedical devices. They learned how Sirris can ensure they avoid restricting the application of miniaturisation  to commercial devices that are not fit for purpose, by developing customised solutions.