Micromanufacturing Services — Bulk and Surface

Micromanufacturing is a manufacturing process used to produce extremely fine substrate surfaces. The Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) created by micromanufacturing feature a seamless integration of electronics, actuators, sensors and various mechanical elements on a silicon substrate via innovative microfabrication technologies. This enables tens of thousands of micron-size devices to be fabricated on one silicon wafer. There are two basic types of micromanufacturing: bulk and surface.

Bulk Micromanufacturing

Bulk machining makes use of selective wet etching — although dry etching can also be implemented — to create structures inside a substrate. A silicon wafer is etched via a process called photolithography to convey a patterned layer of silicon dioxide from a mask to the surface of the substrate. This prevents specific areas on the substrate from being etched. The wet etchants are typically alkali solvents that dissolve the silicon in an anisotropic manner. The crystal structure of the silicon produces a pitted etching featuring angled walls. Bulk micromanufacturing is a relatively inexpensive process that is normally used in low-budget research applications.

Surface Micromanufacturing

Surface micromanufacturing differs from bulk micromanufacturing in that it occurs on top of rather than inside the substrate, typically a silicon wafer. The process can entail the use of either a wet acid etch or a dry ionized gas etch. The etching is used to create multiple layers on the silicon wafer surface. The top layers normally consist of polysilicon, with silicon dioxide serving as a sacrificial layer. The silicon dioxide layer is removed to create the required void in the thickness direction. The main advantage offered by surface micromanufacturing is that it enables the development of uniform MEMS where electronic and mechanical components are built onto the same substrate. These components are smaller than those produced via bulk micromanufacturing.

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Summary of Bulk and Surface Micromanufacturing Benefits

Both bulk and surface micromanufacturing meet the demands of today’s customers who want smaller, lighter products with many additional features. Micromanufacturing enables the production of MEMS on an extremely small scale, which can provide faster, more accurate and more reliable operation than similar products of larger size. And because the areas where micromanufacturing technology can be applied are virtually unlimited, many manufacturing operations can experience the various size, performance and cost advantages.

Sharretts Plating Company Offers Micromanufacturing Services

SPC offers effective micromanufacturing services that can enhance production capabilities and lower costs in your manufacturing operation. As a leading metal finishing innovator since 1925, you can count on us to develop a customized micromanufacturing methodology that meets your specific operational requirements.

Contact us to learn more about bulk and surface micromanufacturing and how they can benefit your business. We’ll also be happy to provide a no-obligation price quote for any of our micromanufacturing services.


"I would like to thank you for the help you have provided us in developing an electroless nickel plating technique on an unusual substrate. The sample platings you provided show that we should be able to reach our goals. I especially appreciate your willingness to take on an unusual job, with the uncertainties that that entails...We are looking forward to working with you in the future on our plating needs."

– Robert K.