Essentials: Storytelling for high technology products

Essentials: Storytelling for high technology products

This is a story on how the one penny coin relates to micro-assembly in this year of 2016.

This blog post is on storytelling – and on a very special occasion: the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen.

Your Majesty, congratulations and all the best for the days and years to come!

Up to now you shaped the future of many people all around the world and you are still going strong in this respect. You have already a long story to tell. We started our story this year. 2016 is not only Your Majesty’s birthday but also the founding year of MiCROW.

We wanted to present you a very special gift, which connects Your Majesty and MiCROW. And this is our story.

Central part of the tentative gift and this story is the One Penny Coin. Everyone is well aware that this coin shows your effigy – with a very interesting detail: The George IV Diamond Diadem. Since 2015 a new portrait, made by Jody Clark from the Royal Mint is in place. It features Your Majesty wearing the Diamond Diadem like for State Opening.

On the one penny coin the elaborated details are in the size range of 0.1 mm to 0.4 mm. These are typically the dimensions we are working with. There is a need, e.g. in sensor development or prototyping, to assemble components micrometres or millimetres in size with precision in the micrometre range or better. If the human precision of approximately 50 µm was sufficient so far, future assemblies require precisions of single micrometres or better. Furthermore, the latest sensor generations are increasingly hybrid systems, i.e. components are manufactured from different materials and by different technical processes are combined and functionally integrated. Such hybrid systems and hybrid manufacturing are key to innovation and technological leadership. Micro-assembly is the enabling technology for hybrid systems.

MiCROW develops and provides a machine to enable hybrid prototyping or hybrid manufacturing of smallest and small series. With this machine it is possible to place and mount objects and components with dimensions below 1 mm in a save and intuitive way.

Our initial idea was to decorate a One Penny Coin with diamonds or gemstones. The small features of the diadem would be perfect to demonstrate the accuracy and flexibility of the micro-assembly machine. The One Penny Coin, the smallest value coin, would have been refined by the precious material and would increase in value – as a hybrid sensor would be improved by the perfect assembly of additional components.

This story is understandable for everyone, as it combines elements, which are generally well known: coins, diamonds, and assembly. These are substitutes for our story of the micro-assembly of the technical components. The size and value of the smallest available coin are well known and found in everyone’s pocket. Diamonds are a synonym for precious and high-value objects. The combination of these objects by assembly is in the imaginable range of most people, even if real micro-assembly reaches much further.

The most important part in this story, however, is the emotional connection of the listener or reader to these objects. Olaf Mollenhauer, long-time entrepreneur and mentor, condenses this relation into one sentence: “Dealing with people is all about emotion.” This is complemented by Rhianna Pratchett, who is well known for her work in the game industry: “We are narrative creatures. Stories engage the heart and make players care about your game.”(Footnote) Our story is sometimes hard to tell because of all the technical facts and difficulties, especially to people, who are not into technical developments. It is therefore important to address the emotions of our vis-à-vis with a good story – and engage them. For game enthusiasts this could also be the entertaining fact that our machine is by default controlled intuitively with a gamepad.

Unfortunately, we were not able to tell our story of the diamond-decorated One Penny Coin due to the regulations regarding alterations of coins of the realm and the use of the effigy of Your Majesty. If we would have proceeded with the idea, we would have to ask Your Majesty directly* for permission – and where would the surprise be with that? That is why we used a Two-Euro Coin and marked the Capital Cities of the United Kingdom, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, with diamonds and took it for the image of this blog post. Unfortunately, this coin does not provide such striking features for decoration as the One-Penny Coin would. However, we would gladly accept your permission to prepare as many penny coins as you wish – just get in touch with us.


* “Directly” is relative: We would of course have gone through the Royal Mint and the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.