While Ipsen is in the business of heating things up, Mikros Technologies is responsible for keeping things cool. Located in New Hampshire, USA, Mikros grew out of a project with NASA-Johnson Space Center to cool the astronaut crew and electronics aboard the Space Station in 1991. Today, they are a leading provider of complex thermal management solutions for some of the most critical and forward-looking applications in power computing, laser optics, semiconductor testing, renewable energy generation, artificial intelligence and electric vehicle systems.
Small Parts – Big Impact
Mikros designs and produces high-performance liquid cooling systems and micro-machined nozzle plates for applications requiring micron-level dimensions and sub-micron accuracy. They play a critical role in allowing data centers and equipment used for transportation, aerospace and defense to perform optimally and keeping high heat-generating components from over-heating and failing prematurely. Some of the microchannel cold plates they manufacture are small and delicate, no larger than a penny. Others are large assemblies that occupy a full computing server rack. Specialized parts like these require careful planning when it comes to heat treatment to produce consistent high-volume, high-quality components.
Over the last three decades, Mikros has experienced a dramatic increase in both product variety and volume. Mikros needed new multipurpose furnaces for vacuum brazing and diffusion bonding that could withstand continuous production, and allow operators to seamlessly change recipes and easily pick up where the last person stopped. The need for a modern, clean furnace that fit into a lean manufacturing environment was necessary. Mikros built a culture around manufacturing as a craft, and takes great pride in an organized workplace and efficient processes.
Mikros considered these important factors when selecting a furnace:
- Versatility: Ability to run multiple processes with varying part sizes, materials, and geometries with fast door-to-door cycle times for high-volume production
- Ease of Use: A user-friendly interface with the ability to cross train the workforce to avoid a single point of failure
- Preventive Maintenance: Ability to pull historic data with predictive capabilities for better maintenance planning
- Seamless Process Integration: A plug-and-play equipment solution that encourages efficient manufacturing processes
Mikros increased production capacity by purchasing two more TITAN® H2 2 bar vacuum furnaces. The first was installed in January 2019, the second in October 2019. With the short lead-time of Ipsen’s TITAN®, Mikros was up and running in less than three months from order to start-up.
Versatility: The TITAN® met their needs by supporting a variety of heat-treating processes, providing tight temperature uniformity and delivering clean parts. With its high-efficiency design and fast door-to-door cycle times, The TITAN® helped Mikros gain manufacturing volume to accommodate the company’s rapid growth. In the last five years, Mikros has doubled their workforce and expanded their manufacturing facilities. Mikros makes over 10,000 cold plates per year, and the addition of the TITAN® furnaces has helped them quadruple their production capacity.
Ease of Use: While earlier furnaces had outdated user interfaces, the TITAN® brought Mikros to the next level. With the intuitive VacuProf® control software, Mikros established an effective training program for their workforce. Operators are able to pick up where the last one left off and change the recipe profile quickly. Ipsen’s controls also meet the highest industry standards in the most stringent markets.
Benefits of Ipsen’s VacuProf® software include:
- High-definition display with touch screen
- User-friendly interface with prompts and color menus
- Data collection and reports
- Remote diagnostics and monitoring
- Programmable recipes for optimization of processes and repeatable results
Predictive Maintenance: Ipsen’s PdMetrics® software platform for predictive maintenance connects to a network of integrated sensors in the furnace to gather and analyze data and provide real-time diagnostics. This helps Mikros optimize production efficiency and connects their team to critical information on equipment performance. PdMetrics® helps users anticipate future problems, reduce downtime and achieve better results.
Seamless Process Integration: Mikros designed and built their own loaders for the two furnaces. The ergonomic overhead design takes the weight of the load off workers, frees up floor space and prevents damage to the furnace heating elements. Their clean manufacturing space, quality assurance, and attention to detail are a testament to their strength in innovation.
At Ipsen, “innovation drives excellence,” while Mikros is “empowering innovation for a smarter world.” By working together, we came up with a winning outcome.
About Mikros Technologies
Mikros connects our increasingly smart world by designing and producing high efficiency liquid-cooling systems for high-power microprocessors, IGBTs, Lasers, LEDs and more. Born out of a NASA project to cool the astronaut crew and electronics in the Space Station, their patented micro-channel cold plates provide industry-leading low thermal resistance and pressure drop, giving designers a greater thermal budget to improve their systems. Mikros also specializes in micro-machined nozzle plates for microfluidics applications requiring micron-level dimensions and sub-micron accuracy.