ASE Optics was awarded funding for the development of FASTTEST instrument through the Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate programm, with the proposal Optimised integration of Combined Computational Imaging and image processing for transparent Micro-Devices (OCCIM-DEV).
Specific objective: to develop an instrument for the inspection of micro-fluidic chips and other micro-featured components.
ASE Optics Europe is an R&D orientated European SME always thriving to further its innovation capacity. Largely focussed on development of optical systems for private clients, we are developing an instrument for the non-contact 3D inspection of micro-fluidic chips and other micro-featured components. The objectives of the recruitment of an Innovation associate (IA) were aligned with furthering progress in the novel micro-metrology instrument. The opportunity of having the extra member of staff allowed ASE Optics to offer a more integrated solution.
Our innovation associate: who is he?
Marino Maiorino has a PhD in characterization of solid state detectors for image applications, has extensive experience in digital signal processing, development of control and implementation software and optimization of algorithms. He is high-level computational imaging scientist focused on algorithm enhancement and high-tech image processing. He actively collaborated with the rest of the R&D team on the FASTTEST development and he has been leading the integration of the first system focussed on the micro-fluidic chips market.
Work performed during the programm: software integration and optimisation of the different assemblies making up the FASTTEST instrument.
The work from the beginning of the OCCIM-DEV project has been focused on software integration and optimisation of the different assemblies making up the FASTTEST instrument. The OCT measurement and the FFT leading to depth measurements has been performed and calibrated. The data acquisition speed of the OCT is now hardware limited to 40 000 depth profiles per second. A user interface now allows the user to select the path which the OCT is to scan. The system is able to self-configure and perform measurement operations following an inspection path introduced by the user. The machine vision is able to recognize patterns which will be used to automatically guide the OCT beam to the regions of interest. FASTTEST has been demonstrated to potential customers and discussions are currently on-going with a medical devices manufacturer about applying the system capacity to a particular QA problem they have been unable to resolve before. The tailoring of the software by the IA to specific potential customer needs has increased the customer base for the FASTTEST system.
Some figures of the results: 3D map of the inspection area of the microdevice
The FASTTEST GUI main panel, showing the 3D map of the portion of a syringe needle. The inspection area was selected through the software, that reconstructed the depth map in false colours (every colour corresponds to a depth value, according to the colour scale reported on the right of the image):
The same information as in Figure 2, manipulated with an external software:
Progress beyond the state of the art: significant improvements of the FASSTEST instrument for micrometric non-contact inspection technology
The collaboration between the IA and the other staffs at ASE Optics has allowed significant improvements to the FASTTEST instrument, placing it beyond the current SoTA for micrometric non-contact inspection technology. The measurement rates achieved in 3D together with the measurement philosophy which drastically reduces the data load allows for an instrument which can match production rates. A feat not achieved before.
This results in a faster feedback on drifts in the manufacturing process to the manufacturer, allowing for faster intervention and therefore reducing waste by allowing alteration of the process before the products drift out of specifications. This allows FASTTEST customers to save resources and be more efficient.
FASTTEST is a fully autonomous system and, as such, is provided with an extensive set of automated diagnostic tools for reliable hardware control.
The end-users also benefit from FASTTEST, have higher quality assurance of the products they are purchasing. The main market for micro-devices currently targeted being disposable point-of-care medical devices, the long-term impact of FASTTEST is improved treatment and ultimately health for Europe and its citizens.
This breakthrough in the development of FASTTEST, for the 3D inspection of microfluidic chips and other microdevices has been possible thanks to Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate programme (grant number 739648), funded through the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), that has been set-up by the European Commission to manage on its behalf several EU programmes.