Plastics engineer Donna Bibber is launching Micro Engineering Solutions LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to micromanufacturing.
``There's a lot of companies that need tiny, tiny components, and they don't know how to go about it,'' said Bibber, president of the new firm.
She said the company was formed to help those who want to produce miniature and microsize medical devices as well as other critical-tolerance products. Catheter tips that fit on the head of a pin, microfluidic channels carrying red blood cells, lab-on-a-chip diagnostic devices and sensors fitting on a 1-millimeter-square chip are some of her examples.
What makes her company distinct is that it deals strictly with the smallest parts, and it is a woman-owned business. Bibber said she has consulted on nearly 60 microfocused programs, and is used to dealing with products smaller than a speck of dust.
Bibber has 20 years of experience in the plastics engineering field, having worked for Corning Inc. and Miniature Tool and Die Inc. in Charlton. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
She said micromanufacturing techniques require a two- to three-year learning curve, which has limited micromolders in the United States, even though it is a growing field. She said the trend is to miniaturize, and new designer materials such as resorbable polymers, shape memory polymers, nanocomposites and drug-induced polymers are leading micromedical innovation.
With some materials costing as much as $5,000 per gram, Bibber said an experienced consultant can cut costs by helping with material selection and production.