Special Issue "3D Printing of MEMS Technology"

A special issue of Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X). This special issue belongs to the section "E:Engineering and Technology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Andrea Ehrmann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Institute for Technical Energy Systems (ITES), Interaktion 1, 33619 Bielefeld, Germany
Interests: magnetism; spintronics; optics; biopolymers; electrospinning; dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs); smart textiles
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

3D printing belongs to the emerging technologies of our time. While previously mostly used for rapid prototyping, the technology has long entered rapid production, especially for complicated objects or small lot sizes. Most recently, new 3D printing technologies enable printing smallest features on micro- or even nano-scales. At the same time, well-known problems like the waviness of fused deposition modeling (FDM) printed parts, the missing long-term stability of some typical printing materials or reduced mechanical properties of 3D printed objects still exist.

This special issue focusses on all topics dealing with 3D printing of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), such as new or advanced features enabled by 3D printing as compared to conventional technologies, but also the still existent challenges of using 3D printing technologies for MEMS and new approaches how to overcome them.

Prof. Dr. Andrea Ehrmann
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • 3D printed nanostructures and nano-composites for application in MEMS
  • Lab-on-a-chip devices
  • Microfluidics
  • Microelectronics
  • Micro-batteries and other energy storage devices
  • Micro- and nano-sensors and –actuators (physical, chemical, biological)
  • Challenges and possible solutions of using 3D printing technologies for MEMS
  • Similar approaches related to 3D printing of MEMS technology

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Published Papers (14 papers)

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Article
Evaluation of Lateral and Vertical Dimensions of Micromolds Fabricated by a PolyJet™ Printer
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 302; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030302 - 13 Mar 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
PolyJet™ 3D printers have been widely used for the fabrication of microfluidic molds to replicate castable resins due to the ease to create microstructures with smooth surfaces. However, the microstructures fabricated by PolyJet printers do not accurately match with those defined by the [...] Read more.
PolyJet™ 3D printers have been widely used for the fabrication of microfluidic molds to replicate castable resins due to the ease to create microstructures with smooth surfaces. However, the microstructures fabricated by PolyJet printers do not accurately match with those defined by the computer-aided design (CAD) drawing. While the reflow and spreading of the resin before photopolymerization are known to increase the lateral dimension (width) of the printed structures, the influence of resin spreading on the vertical dimension (height) has not been fully investigated. In this work, we characterized the deviations in both lateral and vertical dimensions of the microstructures printed by PolyJet printers. The width of the printed structures was always larger than the designed width due to the spreading of resin. Importantly, the microstructures designed with narrow widths failed to reproduce the intended heights of the structures. Our study revealed that there existed a threshold width (wd′) required to achieve the designed height, and the layer thickness (a parameter set by the printer) influenced the threshold width. The thresholds width to achieve the designed height was found to be 300, 300, and 500 μm for the print layer thicknesses of 16, 28, and 36 μm, respectively. We further developed two general mathematical models for the regions above and below this threshold width. Our models represented the experimental data with an accuracy of more than 96% for the two different regions. We validated our models against the experimental data and the maximum deviation was found to be <4.5%. Our experimental findings and model framework should be useful for the design and fabrication of microstructures using PolyJet printers, which can be replicated to form microfluidic devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Development of Rapid and High-Precision Colorimetric Device for Organophosphorus Pesticide Detection Based on Microfluidic Mixer Chip
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030290 - 09 Mar 2021
Viewed by 434
Abstract
The excessive pesticide residues in cereals, fruit and vegetables is a big threat to human health, and it is necessary to develop a portable, low-cost and high-precision pesticide residue detection scheme to replace the large-scale laboratory testing equipment for rapid detection of pesticide [...] Read more.
The excessive pesticide residues in cereals, fruit and vegetables is a big threat to human health, and it is necessary to develop a portable, low-cost and high-precision pesticide residue detection scheme to replace the large-scale laboratory testing equipment for rapid detection of pesticide residues. In this study, a colorimetric device for rapid detection of organophosphorus pesticide residues with high precision based on a microfluidic mixer chip was proposed. The microchannel structure with high mixing efficiency was determined by fluid dynamics simulation, while the corresponding microfluidic mixer chip was designed. The microfluidic mixer chip was prepared by a self-developed liquid crystal display (LCD) mask photo-curing machine. The influence of printing parameters on the accuracy of the prepared chip was investigated. The light source with the optimal wavelength of the device was determined by absorption spectrum measurement, and the relationship between the liquid reservoir depth and detection limit was studied by experiments. The correspondence between pesticide concentration and induced voltage was derived. The minimum detection concentration of the device could reach 0.045 mg·L−1 and the average detection time was reduced to 60 s. The results provide a theoretical and experimental basis for portable and high-precision detection of pesticide residues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
An Ultra-High-Q Lithium Niobate Microresonator Integrated with a Silicon Nitride Waveguide in the Vertical Configuration for Evanescent Light Coupling
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030235 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 561
Abstract
We demonstrate the hybrid integration of a lithium niobate microring resonator with a silicon nitride waveguide in the vertical configuration to achieve efficient light coupling. The microring resonator is fabricated on a lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) substrate using photolithography assisted chemo-mechanical etching [...] Read more.
We demonstrate the hybrid integration of a lithium niobate microring resonator with a silicon nitride waveguide in the vertical configuration to achieve efficient light coupling. The microring resonator is fabricated on a lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) substrate using photolithography assisted chemo-mechanical etching (PLACE). A fused silica cladding layer is deposited on the LNOI ring resonator. The silicon nitride waveguide is further produced on the fused silica cladding layer by first fabricating a trench in the fused silica while using focused ion beam (FIB) etching for facilitating the evanescent coupling, followed by the formation of the silicon nitride waveguide on the bottom of the trench. The FIB etching ensures the required high positioning accuracy between the waveguide and ring resonator. We achieve Q-factors as high as 1.4 × 107 with the vertically integrated device. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Synthesis of Printable Polyvinyl Alcohol for Aerosol Jet and Inkjet Printing Technology
Micromachines 2021, 12(2), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12020220 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 437
Abstract
Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) is a promising polymer due to its high solubility with water, availability in low molecular weight, having short polymer chain, and cost-effectiveness in processing. Printed technology is gaining popularity to utilize processible solution materials at low/room temperature. This work demonstrates [...] Read more.
Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) is a promising polymer due to its high solubility with water, availability in low molecular weight, having short polymer chain, and cost-effectiveness in processing. Printed technology is gaining popularity to utilize processible solution materials at low/room temperature. This work demonstrates the synthesis of PVA solution for 2.5% w/w, 4.5% w/w, 6.5% w/w, 8.5% w/w and 10.5% w/w aqueous solution was formulated. Then the properties of the ink, such as viscosity, contact angle, surface tension, and printability by inkjet and aerosol jet printing, were investigated. The wettability of the ink was investigated on flexible (Kapton) and non-flexible (Silicon) substrates. Both were identified as suitable substrates for all concentrations of PVA. Additionally, we have shown aerosol jet printing (AJP) and inkjet printing (IJP) can produce multi-layer PVA structures. Finally, we have demonstrated the use of PVA as sacrificial material for micro-electro-mechanical-system (MEMS) device fabrication. The dielectric constant of printed PVA is 168 at 100 kHz, which shows an excellent candidate material for printed or traditional transistor fabrication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Thermopneumatic Soft Micro Bellows Actuator for Standalone Operation
Micromachines 2021, 12(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12010046 - 01 Jan 2021
Viewed by 751
Abstract
Typical pneumatic soft micro actuators can be manufactured without using heavy driving components such as pumps and power supplies by adopting an independent battery-powered mechanism. In this study, a thermopneumatically operated soft micro bellows actuator was manufactured, and the standalone operation of the [...] Read more.
Typical pneumatic soft micro actuators can be manufactured without using heavy driving components such as pumps and power supplies by adopting an independent battery-powered mechanism. In this study, a thermopneumatically operated soft micro bellows actuator was manufactured, and the standalone operation of the actuator was experimentally validated. Thermopneumatic actuation is based on heating a sealed cavity inside the elastomer of the actuator to raise the pressure, leading to deflection of the elastomer. The bellows actuator was fabricated by casting polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) using the 3D-printed soluble mold technique to prevent leakage, which is inherent in conventional soft lithography due to the bonding of individual layers. The heater, manufactured separately using winding copper wire, was inserted into the cavity of the bellows actuator, which together formed the thermopneumatic actuator. The 3D coil heater and bellows allowed immediate heat transfer and free movement in the intended direction, which is unachievable for conventional microfabrication. The fabricated actuator produced a stroke of 2184 μm, equivalent to 62% of the body, and exerted a force of 90.2 mN at a voltage of 0.55 V. A system in which the thermopneumatic actuator was driven by alkaline batteries and a control circuit also demonstrated a repetitive standalone operation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
High Permeability Photosintered Strontium Ferrite Flexible Thin Films
Micromachines 2021, 12(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12010042 - 01 Jan 2021
Viewed by 465
Abstract
The paper is focused on the development and optimization of strontium ferrite nanomaterial and photosintered flexible thin films. These magnetic thin films are characterized with direct current (DC) and high frequency measurements. For photosintered strontium ferrite samples, we achieved relative complex permeability of [...] Read more.
The paper is focused on the development and optimization of strontium ferrite nanomaterial and photosintered flexible thin films. These magnetic thin films are characterized with direct current (DC) and high frequency measurements. For photosintered strontium ferrite samples, we achieved relative complex permeability of about 29.5-j1.8 and relative complex permittivity of about 12.9-j0.3 at a frequency of 5.9 GHz. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
DNA Printing Integrated Multiplexer Driver Microelectronic Mechanical System Head (IDMH) and Microfluidic Flow Estimation
Micromachines 2021, 12(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12010025 - 29 Dec 2020
Viewed by 582
Abstract
The system designed in this study involves a three-dimensional (3D) microelectronic mechanical system chip structure using DNA printing technology. We employed diverse diameters and cavity thickness for the heater. DNA beads were placed in this rapid array, and the spray flow rate was [...] Read more.
The system designed in this study involves a three-dimensional (3D) microelectronic mechanical system chip structure using DNA printing technology. We employed diverse diameters and cavity thickness for the heater. DNA beads were placed in this rapid array, and the spray flow rate was assessed. Because DNA cannot be obtained easily, rapidly deploying DNA while estimating the total amount of DNA being sprayed is imperative. DNA printings were collected in a multiplexer driver microelectronic mechanical system head, and microflow estimation was conducted. Flow-3D was used to simulate the internal flow field and flow distribution of the 3D spray room. The simulation was used to calculate the time and pressure required to generate heat bubbles as well as the corresponding mean outlet speed of the fluid. The “outlet speed status” function in Flow-3D was used as a power source for simulating the ejection of fluid by the chip nozzle. The actual chip generation process was measured, and the starting voltage curve was analyzed. Finally, experiments on flow rate were conducted, and the results were discussed. The density of the injection nozzle was 50, the size of the heater was 105 μm × 105 μm, and the size of the injection nozzle hole was 80 μm. The maximum flow rate was limited to approximately 3.5 cc. The maximum flow rate per minute required a power between 3.5 W and 4.5 W. The number of injection nozzles was multiplied by 100. On chips with enlarged injection nozzle density, experiments were conducted under a fixed driving voltage of 25 V. The flow curve obtained from various pulse widths and operating frequencies was observed. The operating frequency was 2 KHz, and the pulse width was 4 μs. At a pulse width of 5 μs and within the power range of 4.3–5.7 W, the monomer was injected at a flow rate of 5.5 cc/min. The results of this study may be applied to estimate the flow rate and the total amount of the ejection liquid of a DNA liquid. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Wireless Battery-Free Harmonic Communication System for Pressure Sensing
Micromachines 2020, 11(12), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11121043 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 523
Abstract
In this paper, an efficient passive wireless harmonic communication system is proposed for the real-time monitoring of the pressurized pipelines. A pressure sensor is fabricated using the additive manufacturing technique and a harmonic radio frequency (RF) tag is designed to operate at the [...] Read more.
In this paper, an efficient passive wireless harmonic communication system is proposed for the real-time monitoring of the pressurized pipelines. A pressure sensor is fabricated using the additive manufacturing technique and a harmonic radio frequency (RF) tag is designed to operate at the fundamental frequency (fo) of 2 GHz that shifts the phase of the back reflected RF signal according to the applied pressure ranging from 0 to 20 psi. A power efficient phase modulation with virtually no losses is achieved using a hybrid coupler-based phase shifter that efficiently reflect back the incoming signal using an end coupled reactive impedance element/sensor. The phase delay introduced by the reactive element gets doubled with the second harmonic communication, which increases the sensitivity by a factor of two. The concept of harmonic backscattering is exploited to reduce the effects of multi-path interference and self jamming, as well as improving the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Fused Deposition Modeling of Microfluidic Chips in Polymethylmethacrylate
Micromachines 2020, 11(9), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11090873 - 19 Sep 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1709
Abstract
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is one of the most important thermoplastic materials and is a widely used material in microfluidics. However, PMMA is usually structured using industrial scale replication processes, such as hot embossing or injection molding, not compatible with rapid prototyping. In this work, [...] Read more.
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is one of the most important thermoplastic materials and is a widely used material in microfluidics. However, PMMA is usually structured using industrial scale replication processes, such as hot embossing or injection molding, not compatible with rapid prototyping. In this work, we demonstrate that microfluidic chips made from PMMA can be 3D printed using fused deposition modeling (FDM). We demonstrate that using FDM microfluidic chips with a minimum channel cross-section of ~300 µm can be printed and a variety of different channel geometries and mixer structures are shown. The optical transparency of the chips is shown to be significantly enhanced by printing onto commercial PMMA substrates. The use of such commercial PMMA substrates also enables the integration of PMMA microstructures into the printed chips, by first generating a microstructure on the PMMA substrates, and subsequently printing the PMMA chip around the microstructure. We further demonstrate that protein patterns can be generated within previously printed microfluidic chips by employing a method of photobleaching. The FDM printing of microfluidic chips in PMMA allows the use of one of microfluidics’ most used industrial materials on the laboratory scale and thus significantly simplifies the transfer from results gained in the lab to an industrial product. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
The Influence of Printing Orientation on Surface Texture Parameters in Powder Bed Fusion Technology with 316L Steel
Micromachines 2020, 11(7), 639; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11070639 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 970
Abstract
Laser technologies for fast prototyping using metal powder-based materials allow for faster production of prototype constructions actually used in the tooling industry. This paper presents the results of measurements on the surface texture of flat samples and the surface texture of a prototype [...] Read more.
Laser technologies for fast prototyping using metal powder-based materials allow for faster production of prototype constructions actually used in the tooling industry. This paper presents the results of measurements on the surface texture of flat samples and the surface texture of a prototype of a reduced-mass lathe chuck, made with the additive technology—powder bed fusion. The paper presents an analysis of the impact of samples’ orientation on the building platform on the surface geometrical texture parameters (two-dimensional roughness profile parameters (Ra, Rz, Rv, and so on) and spatial parameters (Sa, Sz, and so on). The research results showed that the printing orientation has a very large impact on the quality of the surface texture and that it is possible to set digital models on the building platform (parallel—0° to the building platform plane), allowing for manufacturing models with low roughness parameters. This investigation is especially important for the design and 3D printing of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) models, where surface texture quality and printable resolution are still a large problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
The Fabrication of Micro Beam from Photopolymer by Digital Light Processing 3D Printing Technology
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050518 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1103
Abstract
3D printing has lately received considerable critical attention for the fast fabrication of 3D structures to be utilized in various industrial applications. This study aimed to fabricate a micro beam with digital light processing (DLP) based 3D printing technology. Compound technology and essential [...] Read more.
3D printing has lately received considerable critical attention for the fast fabrication of 3D structures to be utilized in various industrial applications. This study aimed to fabricate a micro beam with digital light processing (DLP) based 3D printing technology. Compound technology and essential coefficients of the 3D printing operation were applied. To observe the success of the DLP method, it was compared with another fabrication method, called projection micro-stereolithography (PμSL). Evaluation experiments showed that the 3D printer could print materials with smaller than 86.7 µm dimension properties. The micro beam that moves in one direction (y-axis) was designed using the determined criteria. Though the same design was used for the DLP and PμSL methods, the supporting structures were not manufactured with PμSL. The micro beam was fabricated by removing the supports from the original design in PμSL. Though 3 μm diameter supports could be produced with the DLP, it was not possible to fabricate them with PμSL. Besides, DLP was found to be better than PμSL for the fabrication of complex, non-symmetric support structures. The presented results in this study demonstrate the efficiency of 3D printing technology and the simplicity of manufacturing a micro beam using the DLP method with speed and high sensitivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
Thin-Film MEMS Resistors with Enhanced Lifetime for Thermal Inkjet
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050499 - 14 May 2020
Viewed by 851
Abstract
In this paper, the failure mechanisms of the thermal inkjet thin-film resistors are recognized. Additionally, designs of resistors to overcome these mechanisms are suggested and tested by simulation and experiment. The resulting resistors are shown to have improved lifetimes, spanning an order of [...] Read more.
In this paper, the failure mechanisms of the thermal inkjet thin-film resistors are recognized. Additionally, designs of resistors to overcome these mechanisms are suggested and tested by simulation and experiment. The resulting resistors are shown to have improved lifetimes, spanning an order of magnitude up to 2 × 109 pulses. The thermal failure mechanisms were defined according to the electric field magnitude in three critical points—the resistor center, the resistor–conductor edge, and the resistor thermal “hot spots”. Lowering the thermal gradients between these points will lead to the improved lifetime of the resistors. Using MATLAB PDE simulations, various resistors shapes, with different electric field ratios in the hot spots, were designed and manufactured on an 8″ silicon wafer. A series of lifetime experiments were conducted on the resistors, and a strong relation between the shape and the lifetime of the resistor was found. These results have immediate ramifications regarding the different printing apparatuses which function with thermal inkjet technology, allowing the commercial production of larger thermal printheads with high MTBF rate. Such heads may fit fast and large 3D printers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Article
On-Substrate Joule Effect Heating by Printed Micro-Heater for the Preparation of ZnO Semiconductor Thin Film
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050490 - 10 May 2020
Viewed by 967
Abstract
Fabrication of printed electronic devices along with other parts such as supporting structures is a major problem in modern additive fabrication. Solution-based inkjet printing of metal oxide semiconductor usually requires a heat treatment step to facilitate the formation of target material. The employment [...] Read more.
Fabrication of printed electronic devices along with other parts such as supporting structures is a major problem in modern additive fabrication. Solution-based inkjet printing of metal oxide semiconductor usually requires a heat treatment step to facilitate the formation of target material. The employment of external furnace introduces additional complexity in the fabrication scheme, which is supposed to be simplified by the additive manufacturing process. This work presents the fabrication and utilization of micro-heater on the same thermal resistive substrate with the printed precursor pattern to facilitate the formation of zinc oxide (ZnO) semiconductor. The ultraviolet (UV) photodetector fabricated by the proposed scheme was successfully demonstrated. The performance characterization of the printed devices shows that increasing input heating power can effectively improve the electrical properties owing to a better formation of ZnO. The proposed approach using the on-substrate heating element could be useful for the additive manufacturing of functional material by eliminating the necessity of external heating equipment, and it allows in-situ annealing for the printed semiconductor. Hence, the integration of the printed electronic device with printing processes of other materials could be made possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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Perspective
3D Printed MEMS Technology—Recent Developments and Applications
Micromachines 2020, 11(4), 434; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11040434 - 20 Apr 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2929
Abstract
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are of high interest for recent electronic applications. Their applications range from medicine to measurement technology, from microfluidics to the Internet of Things (IoT). In many cases, MEMS elements serve as sensors or actuators, e.g., in recent mobile phones, but [...] Read more.
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are of high interest for recent electronic applications. Their applications range from medicine to measurement technology, from microfluidics to the Internet of Things (IoT). In many cases, MEMS elements serve as sensors or actuators, e.g., in recent mobile phones, but also in future autonomously driving cars. Most MEMS elements are based on silicon, which is not deformed plastically under a load, as opposed to metals. While highly sophisticated solutions were already found for diverse MEMS sensors, actuators, and other elements, MEMS fabrication is less standardized than pure microelectronics, which sometimes blocks new ideas. One of the possibilities to overcome this problem may be the 3D printing approach. While most 3D printing technologies do not offer sufficient resolution for MEMS production, and many of the common 3D printing materials cannot be used for this application, there are still niches in which the 3D printing of MEMS enables producing new structures and thus creating elements for new applications, or the faster and less expensive production of common systems. Here, we give an overview of the most recent developments and applications in 3D printing of MEMS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printing of MEMS Technology)
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