Design engineers are likely to create a host of new applications for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). So predicts a panel of the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council. But first, its study says, more R&D must be launched and completed. MEMS can produce tiny 3-D mechanical structures using lithography techniques derived from the construction of integrated circuits. Instead of handling only electrical signals, MEMS merges signal processing with sensing and actuation. Some systems have moving parts. Thus, MEMS makes possible miniature fluid-pressure and flow sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and micro-optical devices. The panel recommends enlarging R&D into MEMS-related fields, including surface materials, etching, packing, assembly, and engineering standards. CAD tools familiar in the design of integrated circuits are needed for MEMS, the study adds. Included are schematic-to-layout generation, automatic routing, and design verification. The result, the study says, could be "a revolution" of MEMS into medicine, robotics, navigation, computers, auto safety, munitions, instrumentation, and many other fields.
As manufacturers add new technologies to their products, designing for compliance becomes more difficult. Prepare for the certification testing process. Otherwise, you increase the risk of discovering a safety issue after a product leaves the assembly line. That will cause significant time-to-market delays, be much costlier to fix, and damage your brand in the eyes of customers.
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