Zyvex is developing a low-cost high-precision method for manufacturing MEMS-based three-dimensional structures/assemblies. The assembly process relies on compliant properties of the interconnecting components. The sockets and connectors are designed to benefit from their compliant nature by allowing the mechanical component to self-align, i.e. reposition themselves to their designed, stable position, independent of the initial placement of the part by the external robot. Thus, the self-aligning property guarantees the precision of the assembled structure to be very close to, or the same, as the precision of the lithography process itself.
A three-dimensional (3D) structure is achieved by inserting the connectors into the sockets through the use of a passive end-effector. We have developed the automated, high-yield, assembly procedure which permits connectors to be picked up from any location within the same die, or a separate die. This general procedure allows for the possibility to assemble parts of dissimilar materials.
We have built many 3D MEMS structures, including several 3D MEMS devices such as a scanning electron microscope (SEM) micro column, mass-spectrometer column, variable optical attenuator. For these 3D MEMS structures we characterize their <i>mechanical strength</i> through finite element simulation, <i>dynamic properties</i> by finite-element analysis and experimentally with UMECH’s MEMS motion analyzer (MMA), <i>alignment accuracy</i> by using an in-house developed dihedral angle measurement laser autocollimator, and <i>impact properties</i> by performing drop tests. The details of the experimental set-ups, the measurement procedures, and the experimental data are presented in this paper.