Special Issue on Microfactory
In the last decade, the miniaturization and integration of mechanical, electronic, and optical components has seen intensive development, both for industrial and consumer products. The technology involved in micromanufacturing can be now seen as moving from the academic study phase to that of industrial application. At the same time, the manufacturing industry is being forced to accommodate these changes in products in order to survive in a borderless international market, not only due to technical considerations but in the interest of cost-effectiveness and agility as well. The environment is also a consideration.
To accommodate these demands, further scientific and technological advancements will be required. On the other hand, industrial applications should be developed in order to make the output of the manufacturing industries more economically advantageous and sustainable.
“Microfactory” is the philosophy of reducing the size of manufacturing machinery and systems to make them appropriate to the size of the products. It is important that there be advances in micromanufacturing to open this potential new stage for cutting edge manufacturing. The microfactory concept was born almost twenty years ago in Japan, but is just now commonly understood and studied worldwide.
For this special issue, we called for both academic and practical papers related to the microfactory concept. As the latter category of papers usually tend to be published outside the world of academic journals, it has been difficult for researchers to become familiar with them. However, since practical applications are very important for the prospects of micromanufacturing technologies, we also invited papers that may fall outside our conventional criteria. Unfortunately, a number of important trials and developments could not be included in this issue, but it is our hope that this special issue may provide our readers with some aspects of the micromanufacturing of the near future.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all authors, reviewers, and editors for their contributions and efforts in realizing this special issue.