This paper describes a rationalized approach to the design of micro-mechanisms which focuses on three important design factors: device configuration, materials and fabrication processes. These factors closely interact with each other, and therefore make it difficult to achieve completely the desired functionality and fully meet the requirements specification for any device. The configuration of a device is dependent on the geometrical constraints and the process limitations in the stage of geometrical design. Its performance is decided by the configuration and the choice of materials through performance estimates. The optimal choice of materials and fabrication processes for a particular configuration requires a comprehensive database system of micro-mechanisms. To demonstrate the design approach, a short case study based on a new micro-actuator is presented. The actuator is driven by electrostatic force and has several advantages compared to similar devices such as high performance, high reliability and high productivity. © 1995.
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