TWI Industrial Member Report Summary 662/1998
C P J Foster, J Cole and C C Otter
The machining of very small structures (ie having features in the range 1µm-1mm) which may be integrated with semiconductor control electronics to form complete 'microsystems', has its roots in the etching and deposition (plating) technologies of the semiconductor industry. There is a growing need for low cost (relative to semiconductor processing) systems capable of micromachining a range of materials (other than silicon). This programme examines the principal non-etch/deposition micromachining technologies available for low volume prototype micromachining applications in stainless steel, alumina and silicon.
Previous work had identified the likelihood that the major high volume micromachining technologies (ie etch and deposition) will remain in the semiconductor fabrication platns. The work also indicates that there will be a need for low volume/prototype micromachining facilities, for both microstructures and conventional components with fine features (e.g. holes <50µm diameter), to be more widely available. In particular the work identifies Electro discharge Machining (EDM), Lasers (Nd:YAG, excimer and CV) and Focused Ion Beam (FIB) techniques as potentially capable of micromachining a range of materials.
This project has examined the identified processes in respect of their technical capability. The data from this work is intended to aid process selection for both new entrants and established players in the micromachining industry.