Originally Published MPMN November
Originally Published MPMN November 2004
System Sees Designers through Thick and Thin
A company specializing in microdevice and microsystem fabrication has extended
the capabilities of its micromanufacturing process to offer structures with
layer thicknesses of 2 to 50 µm. Microfabrica Inc. (Burbank, CA;
enhanced its EFAB micromanufacturing technology to enable designers to create
taller microdevices and systems. Micron-precise metal layers can be deposited
in large numbers to make three-dimensional microdevices. The thick-layer capability
benefits a variety of applications, including ink-jet printhead nozzles, inertial
measurement units, and magnetic microsystems.
The EFAB process combines the geometric flexibility of surface micromachining and the high aspect ratio of the LIGA (lithography, electroplating, and molding) technique. EFAB technology goes beyond the single-layer LIGA technique, however, by allowing many tens of layers of various thicknesses to be stacked on top of each other to form three-dimensional microdevices.
The ability to fabricate thin structures such as springs, cantilevers, and diaphragms within the same device as thicker structures has always been a problem with conventional micromachining technology. By combining the high-aspect-ratio advantages of LIGA with the geometric flexibility of surface machining, EFAB has become the most versatile microfabrication technology available, says Chris Bang, vice president of design and applications engineering at Microfabrica.
Microfabricas thick-layer process was developed with the support of a Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation. The capabilities developed under the grant have been integrated with the companys standard EFAB process and are available to customers for immediate use.
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