Microelectromechanical systems, also known as MEMS, could be described as tiny machines that have both mechanical and electrical components. The focus of this definition is most certainly the tiny part. While the dimensions of a MEMS can vary, their size can be anywhere from several millimeters to less than one micrometer, they are typically smaller than the width of a human hair.
You might ask yourself, what is the possible potential for such small machines? This is something that has historically always been appreciated in theory, but now, with the explosion of the Internet of Things and connected devices, is coming into stronger focus for many manufacturers. Along with the focus on MEMS themselves, there is another underlying challenge these manufacturers are facing, and that’s the lack of skilled workforce needed to create them. Universities have begun to recognize that this is a trend that will most likely only gain momentum in the near future, and have developed unique solutions to address such challenges. Those solutions are centered around 3D printing.
Many of the barriers for education providers that are inhibiting the instruction of work-ready MEMS engineers center around the cleanroom environment. A cleanroom is a space that has a controlled level of contamination, and they are usually very costly to construct and maintain. By using 3D printing to eliminate the cleanroom scenario all together, educators now have a cost efficient and accessible way to incorporate MEMS education in their curriculums.