"Today's MEMs designers face a difficult design hurdle: Combining fabrication process information with 2D-mask geometry for creating 3D structures," says Victor Yarberry, principal member of Sandia National Lab's technical staff. "The fundamental problem is that a 2D mask does not reveal the true 3D structure." For addressing this problem, the Lab's scientists created SUMMiT (Sandia Ultra-Planar Multilevel MEMS technology) software. Sandia is making the software's source code available. The software's 3D model generator applies fabrication steps to 2D masks for creating a solid model. "Currently, there are no commercial tools that can model the entire SUMMiT process, which includes a wet undercut etch followed by a conformal deposition," says Yarberry. The new code uses algorithms for providing representations of conformal depositions on the underside surface. "These steps allow creation of important mechanical features, such as gear hubs and hinge points by the designer," he says. He notes that MEMs devices are being designed into computer disk drives, optical communication switching devices, and accelerometers for automotive air bags. For more information, send inquiries to Sandia National Labs, Box 5800, Albuquerque, NM 87109.
The FDA has just released draft guidelines for using 3D printing in the design, development, and manufacture of regulated medical products. Although the recommendations are non-binding, they do set some much-needed parameters.
We're talking a look at 10 of the coolest technologies being developed by the US military today. In addition to saving lives on the battlefield, don't be surprised if you see some of these in your daily life some time in the near future.
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