The micro mechatronics field involves designing and manufacturing mechatronic devices with dimensions ranging from 1 micrometer to 1 mm. As the micro world scales, micro mechatronics integrates both mechanical and electronic systems. Consumer products that include electronics typically contain a micro mechatronics system as part of the mechanical system.
Why Not Micro Machining? Cost + Time + Restrictions
No matter how they are fabricated, most micro mechatronic systems use some form of photolithography to fabricate structural components.
Micro machining (both surface and bulk) results in:
- Relatively slow etching
- Devices with low aspect ratios
- Required bonding to form complex devices
And while surface micro machining offers good dimension control, it involves multiple, repetitive steps that add to project costs and timelines. Moreover, it requires separate build and sacrificial materials.
Why Micro 3D Printing? Speed + Precision
Some current 3D printing platforms offer rapid processing, but they’re limited to low-precision applications and larger part sizes. Not all 3D printers can create tiny components with fine features and tight tolerances. And though two-photon polymerization based direct laser writing (TPP-DLW) is ultra-precise, it’s slower than what designers want when they’re leaving micro machining behind.
Fortunately, BMF’s projection micro stereolithography (PμSL) technology:
- Delivers greater design and manufacturing freedom
- Supports continuous exposure for faster processing than time-consuming etching
- Causes the rapid photopolymerization of an entire layer of liquid polymer resin with a flash of ultraviolet (UV) light
- Can create 3D channels that are as small as 10 microns have high aspect ratios
By removing the constraints associated with traditional manufacturing techniques, micro 3D printing is growing beyond the world of academic research to achieve commercial applications. BMF also offers an open material platform and is working with third-party suppliers, universities, and OEMs to onboard materials that support specific application-based requirements for micro mechatronic systems.
The application areas of micro and nano mechatronics include basic applications in robotics, sensors, actuators, semiconductor materials and devices, automobiles, portable electronic devices, and displays.
On Demand Webinar
Micro 3D Printing Applications for MEMS & Microfluidics
Hear from Norman Wen, Associate Director of Chip Development at Emulate to hear how many MEMS and microfluidics manufacturers are using micro 3D printing to save time and money.Watch now