"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 Space Kid, 11, will be one of the first civilians to have his design manufactured in space by NASA, thanks to the City X Project, which inspires kids to think about new 3D-printed inventions that could be useful for humans living in space.
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