Although lots of works have been devoted to develop the microactuators or microstructures, few researches have been done on three-dimensional microactuators. Here the feasibility investigation on a three-dimensional electro-thermally driven long-stretch micro drive (LSMD) is proposed by integrating the LSMD and mechanical hinge mechanism. The LSMD (about 2000 μm×500μm) consists of two cascaded compliant structures in parallel. Each cascaded structure is formed by connecting several basic actuation units in series. The mechanical hinge is used to allow the LSMD to be lifted as a three-dimensional structure. One of the important issues in fabricating the three-dimensional microactuator is the conducting circuit to actuate the microactuator. Here the Ni electroplating process is used to fabricate the mechanical hinge structure and the LSMD, then the mechanical hinge itself can act as the conductive circuit easily.
From the LSMD simulation results, several design parameters are found to have significant influence on the output displacements. Larger out-stretching displacements are feasible by proper choice of design parameters. Preliminary fabrication results of nickel-made LSMD exhibit output displacement of 190 μm at input voltage of 3 volts. Fabrication results of nickel-made three-dimensional LSMD are also presented