Originally Published MPMN May 2005
A microdevice and microsystem fabricator has extended its capabilities to create 3-D products larger than 1 mm in height. Microfabrica (Burbank, CA; www.microfabrica.com) has enhanced its EFAB process to engineer complex microdevices with micron precision.
In 2004, the company introduced 3-D structures with layer thicknesses between 2 and 50 µm using its proprietary EFAB process. The process combines surface micromachining and the high aspect ratio of the LIGA (lithography, electroplating, and molding) technique. EFAB technology goes beyond the single-layer LIGA technique by allowing many tens of layers of various thicknesses to be stacked on top of each other to form 3-D microdevices. While getting to the 50-µm level was a great achievement, “what we hadn’t done yet was stack enough layers to get to the millimeter level,” says CTO and executive vice president Adam Cohen. Being able to create taller three-dimensional devices allows for easier integration into larger systems. Surgeons, for example, need devices that have adequate strength and are capable of manipulating larger areas inside the body, adds Cohen.
“Building three-dimensional microdevices that are 1 mm and taller is a huge breakthrough for our industry. For the first time, designers who want to build complex micron-precision devices can use the third dimension—height—to meet their design goals,” adds Vacit Arat, president and CEO.
Possible biomedical applications of the 1-mm three-dimensional microstructures include multifunction tools for use in minimally invasive surgery, intravascular ultrasound probes, microcoils, and microneedles.
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