MEMS Fabrication Technology

MEMS Fabrication Technology

Inkjet printers exercise precise control over the ejection of minute droplets of ink, each several picoliters (a picoliter is one trillionth of a liter) in volume, to produce prints. All the parts in PrecisionCore printheads, as well as the technologies used to control them, require advanced know-how. The micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) technology required in the production of PrecisionCore printheads is described below.

High-precision MEMS fabrication process

MEMS fabrication technology is used to Builds mechanical components, sensors, actuators, electronic circuits, and more on a single silicon substrate, glass substrate, or organic material, all with sub-micron precision. Like semiconductor circuits, MEMS are fabricated in a process that includes photolithography, etching, and other steps. This technology is indispensable for the manufacture of many modern devices, such as watches, mobile phones, and computers. Epson has used this technology for many years, first to process mechanical watch parts and later to process crystal units used in quartz watches. After decades of experience and refinements, our MEMS technology is among the most accurate in the industry.

Intricate parts made with MEMS technology

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The strength of Epson's MEMS processing technology is its excellent accuracy in three dimensions. Ordinary semiconductor manufacturing demands excellent planar dimensional accuracy while the need for accuracy in the height direction is not as high. The height of structures fabricated using general-purpose semiconductor manufacturing equipment varies by several percent. In contrast, Epson's MEMS fabrication technology keeps this variability low-about one-fifth to one-tenth that in ordinary semiconductor processing. Our technology enables the formation of intricate parts such as thin-film piezo (TFP) actuators, ink channels, and nozzle plates.

Whereas nozzles in thermal printheads produced on photosensitive resin are several microns in length, nozzles in MicroTFP print chips fabricated on silicon wafers using MEMS technology may be more than 10 times that. This makes it possible to attain exceptionally high droplet placement accuracy and amazing image quality.

PrecisionCore printheads

MicroTFP print chips

The TFP actuators, ink channels, and nozzle plates in the MicroTFP print chips that make up PrecisionCore printheads are fabricated with submicron level accuracy using MEMS technology. Variable Sized Droplet Technology (VSDT), an advanced meniscus control technology, also contributes to the blazing speed and superb print quality of Epson printers. Built with Epson's precision MEMS fabrication technology, PrecisionCore printheads take inkjet printing to a new level.