In this paper, a simple fabrication process for SU-8 in-plane micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) structures, called “border-bulk micromachining”, is introduced. It aims to enhance the potential of SU-8 MEMS structures for applications such as low-cost/disposable microsystems and wearable MEMS. The fabrication process is robust and uses only four processing steps to fabricate SU-8 in-plane MEMS structures, simplifying the fabrication flow in comparison with other reported attempts. The whole fabrication process has been implemented on copper-polyimide composites. A new processing method enables the direct, laser-based micromachining of polyimide in a practical way, bringing in extra processing safety and simplicity. After forming the polymeric in-plane MEMS structures through SU-8 lithography, a copper wet etching masked by the SU-8 structure layers is carried out. After the wet etching, fabricated in-plane MEMS structures are suspended within an open window on the substrate, similar to the final status of in-plane MEMS devices made from industrial silicon micromachining methods (such as SOIMUMPS). The last step of the fabrication flow is a magnetron sputtering of aluminum. The border-bulk micromachining process has been experimentally evaluated through the fabrication and the characterization of simple in-plane electrically actuated MEMS test structures. The characterization results of these simple test structures have verified the following process qualities: controllability, reproducibility, predictability and general robustness.
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