Hybrid microstructures can be manufactured incorporating various material elements, including metals and polymers, to produce cost-effective integrated devices for new generation applications, from life sciences to diverse micro industry needs. Developed by Tecan , the process has huge potential and is already being used to produce structures and components, at microscopic levels, such as gear wheels, coils, encoder discs, lenses, micro filters and similar products, which may be stand-alone devices or component parts of other micro systems. Advantages of the process include low production costs, ultra-fine tolerances, superior surface finishes, high precision, exceptional repeatability, stress and burr free, superior co-planarity, sharp edge definition, variations in hardness, multi-level 'stepped' profiles, low tooling costs, short lead times and easy batch fabrication. The use of new fabrication processes for polymer materials, such as SU8, will be developed further during 2005, during which time the company aims to work closely with designers and niche product developers. Tecan Components Ltd , Weymouth, Dorset DT4 9TU, UK. www.tecan.co.uk.