Learning MEMS Design, Simulation and Fabrication Through 3-D Printing

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This paper presents a cost-effective learning tool for modeling and simulating the microfabrication process and design aspects of MEMS devices using three-dimensional (3-D) printing. This approach was developed to provide engineering educators a more affordable method for teaching MEMS modeling in settings without a cleanroom. In this approach, by designing and building the MEMS prototypes, the engineers learn by experiencing the process of building a MEMS device from the specifications given. A 3-D printer, Stratasys Dimension 1000, is used to create scaled-up models of MEMS devices, specifically a MEMS capacitive switch and MEMS inductor. Masks are designed and a layer-by-layer prototype is presented. Realistic components of MEMS fabrication including conformal layer coating, release etch holes and 3-D printer resolution limitations are part of the design considerations. The MEMS switch release process is recreated with the Stratasys SCA-1200 support-removal system where the support structure, similar to the sacrificial layer in a MEMS device, is dissolved using a water-based solution bath soak. The larger scale demo models can be created to better visualize and understand the device’s operation. The information presented in this paper will hopefully provide engineering educators a more affordable, realistic, and effective method for teaching MEMS modeling and fabrication in settings without a cleanroom.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 4, Informatics, Electronics and Microsystems: TechConnect Briefs 2017
Published: May 14, 2017
Pages: 124 - 127
Industry sector: Sensors, MEMS, Electronics
Topics: MEMS & NEMS Devices, Modeling & Applications
ISBN: 978-0-9988782-1-8