December 08, 2005

CHASE Meeting: Microfabrication

This Tuesday evening I made it along to my first CHASE meeting. CHASE is the Cambridge Hi-tech Association of Small Enterprise, a local networking group for, well, people like me I guess.

Since meeting Jeff, who runs CHASE, through my helping out at OurSocialWorld I had decided that being able to recognise when I'd found the right people was the final push I needed to start attending some of the CHASE events.

The first event I made it to was one of the pubmeets. Held on the third Thursday of each month at The Free Press Pub, they seem a pretty relaxed and friendly affair. There wasn't too much to report, but it was good to chat to some other people who've been through or are going through the same experiences setting up and running a business.

On the first Tuesday of the month there's a slightly more formal event in the form of a talk. They are on a wide variety of topics and this month's was about microfabrication. The CHASE website described it thus:

"TTP is a technology development company active across a wide range of technology sectors. As part of these developments, TTP has direct experience of setting up small-scale manufacturing facilities to deliver high-value products. These include high-spec clean rooms, laser-machining facilities and traditional assembly manufacture.

Fred Hussain is a microfabrication expert at TTP. He has been involved in commissioning and operating a number of these facilities for TTP and other organisations and his background covers all aspects of the microfabrication production cycle.

Fred will be discussing the details and practicalities of setting up small-scale fabrication facilities, what to spend when, and how to get the most for your money."

I still wasn't quite sure what it was about, but was curious enough (and the free wine and nibbles always help sway things...). So I now have some level of understanding as to what a clean-room is (it's a humidity, temperature and particulate [dust, etc.] controlled environment where you can do research or small-ish scale production of things like computer chips or nanotech components); how much they can cost (around £0.5million for a small one, up into the millions for larger ones like Intel have); and what sort of processes you might perform in them (casting, electroplating, metal evaporation, etching... all at the microscopic scale).

Not at all applicable to what I do at work, but interesting to hear about, and I had some interesting (and more relevant) conversations in the break and after the talk.

Posted by Adrian at December 8, 2005 05:40 PM | TrackBack

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