Micralyne Newslyne - August 2008

Message from the CEO

Mr. Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne
Mr. Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne

The Design - Process Interface: is the Boundary Distinct?

One of the challenges you'll have to address if you use an external fab to make your parts - and most MEMS product companies do use external fabs - is to get the interaction between product and process right. This should be easy, right? You, the product designer, state your requirements, and the fab tells you whether it has processes that can deliver your product to you.

In principle, this is the way it should work. In reality, it's not that straightforward. Here are a few reasons why:


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Although MEMS processes are more standardized than in previous years, MEMS fabs almost always have to develop new processes, or at least tune existing processes, to deliver new designs to their customers. Thus, good dialogue between design and process experts is helpful to ascertain where and how to develop new processes, or whether design changes can achieve product requirements more easily.

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MEMS components are always part of a larger system. Product designers can have more freedom with non-MEMS specifications if they can achieve tight MEMS specifications, and vice versa. Good dialogue between product designers and process providers can help optimize tradeoffs required to achieve full product specifications.

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Test and validation frequently requires measurements that can not be done with existing processes and tools. Ascertaining product quality therefore frequently means either developing new processes, and/or developing new validation techniques. Understanding where and how validation is required is critical to both design and process experts, for achieving both quality and cost goals.

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"The sum of the parts can be greater than the whole": by this I mean that no single person or team has all the answers for perfect product development. Frequently, the dialogue between product and process experts creates synergies that produce better products than either could have done separately. The process experts have seen many product examples, and may have breakthrough ideas that can make product design better. Alternatively, good product designers may have seen other process techniques employed that can aid the fab.


In a perfect world, product and process are independent. We don't, of course, live in a perfect world, and better products result from more interaction between design and process experts. Better products result from dialogue, mutual understanding, commitment to outcomes, and empathy for each other's constraints.

I welcome dialogue and feedback on these thoughts - write me at clumb@micralyne.com, or call me at 780-431-4414.

- By Chris Lumb, President & CEO, Micralyne -

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Contact Information: Micralyne Inc.
1911-94 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6N 1E6
Phone: 1.780.431.4400 Fax: 1.780.431.4422
Email: info(at)micralyne.com