A microfactory refers to a small dimension factory able to produce small dimension products. The term was proposed by the Mechanical Engineer Laboratory (MEL) of Japan in 1990. The microfactory's main advantages are to save a great amount of resources like space, energy, materials and time.
Due to their reduced dimensions, microfactories should be highly automated. They might contain automatic machine tools, assembly systems, quality inspection systems, material feed systems, waste elimination systems, a system to evaluate tool deterioration and a system to replace tools.
A microfactory can also refer to a factory designed to produce flexible small batch production that can produce a wide variety of products as opposed to a single monolithic mass production type approach. Typically the manufacturing processes of microfactories take advantage of digital fabrication technology such as 3D printing and CNC machines in order to accomplish this. For example, Local Motors has microfactories in Phoenix, Ariz. and Knoxville, Tenn. The company builds its signature products, like the Rally Fighter prerunner sports car right in its microfactories.
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