Dr. Rafał Walczak

Professor, Wrocław University of Technology, Faculty of Microsystems Electronics and Photonics


3D, 4D printing of MEMS - SWOT Analysis of Emerging Technique


Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) contains mechanical microstructures co-working with microelectronic circuits toward very small functional system that sense or actuate. Technology of MEMS micromechanical structures involves many well-known techniques applied to the specific material – silicon, glass, polymer, metal or ceramic. Regardless of applied material fabrication of MEMS is multistep process involving many technological steps (photolithography, etching, deposition, bonding, assembling etc.) that requires specialised facilities (i. e. devices and clean-rooms), trained staff and often knowledge on applied material properties and limits of the used techniques that are collected during years of experience.

On the other hand 3D printing is reported to be technique that revolutionizes todays industry and R&D works. Simple overall concept – create digital virtual model of an object and then print it as a fully functional real object – caused that 3D printing is not only tool for rapid prototyping but also interesting tool for low-series customized products made of plastic, glass, metal or ceramic. It opens also new possibilities in R&D works because there is almost no limits in geometry of the developed element. What more it is possible to print objects from several meters dimensions and down to micro- and nanoscale depending on the applied material and printing technique. Thus natural tendency is to combine MEMS and 3D printing technologies to create new technology that enables low-cost, rapid and high throughput fabrication of fully functional MEMS devices only from computer design and by the use of a printer. That is the goal. That is also a challenge. Printing of MEMS requires printing of some electronic and mechanical components. One of the promising method that is used to print electronics circuits and sensors is inkjet printing. Many reviews on applicability and technology of printed electronics is available and discuss deeply state-of-the-art, thus it will not be analysed here. Less attention is paid to investigations on inkjet 3D printing as a tool for fabrication of micromechanic structures that are important parts of many MEMS.


Prof. Rafał Walczak is Dean of the Faculty of Microsystem Electronics and Photonics of Wrocław University of Technology and Head of the Division of Microengineering ad Photovoltaics (www.memslab.eu). He is leading researcher of many Polish and international (EU Framework Programmes) scientific projects related to development of various devices utilizing micro/nanotechnologies and emerging technologies. He is author and co-author of over 200 scientific papers. During his career he has attended more than 70 conference and schools, he has more than 40 oral communications at conferences. He received also many conference awards for outstanding oral and poster presentations and national prestigious awards including Defender 2014 Award of Internationals Defence Industry Exhibition and 2014 Golden Laure of National Technical Organisation. He is member of Executive Board of Polish Society of Sensor Techniques, member of International Steering Committee of Eurosensors Conference and member of MANCEF General Advisory Board.