Microfabrication technology has matured to the point that sophisticated, highly-miniaturized mechanisms can now routinely be manufactured in a batch process in metal. These mechanisms may include a variety of distinct, individually-moving parts. Through the use of monolithic 3-D fabrication, the need for microscale assembly, normally a major cost barrier to volume production may be eliminated. We present the production of complex mechanisms produced using EFAB technology, a batch production process providing multiple layers of electrodeposited and planarized metals. Complex, integrated systems including hinges, flexures, bearings, gears, and drive chains have been produced. EFAB technology allows intricate mechanisms with features as small as 2 μm and overall sizes in the range of 10s of microns to millimeters to be designed using standard 3-D mechanical CAD tools. Air-driven turbines with roller bearings, self-assembled gear trains with three stages of 2:1 reduction gearing, and a concept demonstration of a modular, multi-functional instrument for minimally-invasive surgery are discussed. The latter device, measuring approximately 1 × 0.5 mm in cross section, uses microscale chains and pulleys to independently extend and retract both a hook-shaped instrument and microscale forceps. The design allows for stacking of additional tool modules as required. Highly-miniaturized instruments such as these can be attached at the end of a catheter and actuated remotely by the surgeon by applying pure tension through cables.

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Krugiick, E. et al., (in press), “EFAB Technology and Applications,” The MEMS Handbook, second edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 6-1–6-20.
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