Micro-scale Realization of Compliant Mechanisms: Manufacturing Processes and Constituent Materials—A Review

Minchang Wang*, Daohan Ge, Liqiang Zhang, Just L. Herder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Compliant micromechanisms (CMMs) acquire mobility from the deflection of elastic members and have been proven to be robust by millions of silicon MEMS devices. However, the limited deflection of silicon impedes the realization of more sophisticated CMMs, which often require larger deflections. Recently, some novel manufacturing processes have emerged but are not well known by the community. In this paper, the realization of CMMs is reviewed, aiming to provide help to mechanical designers to quickly find the proper realization method for their CMM designs. To this end, the literature surveyed was classified and statistically analyzed, and representative processes were summarized individually to reflect the state of the art of CMM manufacturing. Furthermore, the features of each process were collected into tables to facilitate the reference of readers, and the guidelines for process selection were discussed. The review results indicate that, even though the silicon process remains dominant, great progress has been made in the development of polymer-related and composite-related processes, such as micromolding, SU-8 process, laser ablation, 3D printing, and the CNT frameworking. These processes result in constituent materials with a lower Young’s modulus and larger maximum allowable strain than silicon, and therefore allow larger deflection. The geometrical capabilities (e.g., aspect ratio) of the realization methods should also be considered, because different types of CMMs have different requirements. We conclude that the SU-8 process, 3D printing, and carbon nanotube frameworking will play more important roles in the future owing to their excellent comprehensive capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number85
Number of pages22
JournalChinese Journal of Mechanical Engineering (English Edition)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Compliant micromechanism
  • Constituent material
  • Manufacturing process


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