The inventors use an electrostatic actuator (i.e. parallel plate capacitor) to modify the pressure distribution at the contact interface between elastomeric microcontact printing stamps and corresponding substrates. A gap is formed between two electrodes using patterned features in the elastomeric stamp. Conductive electrodes are placed against a rigid backing and the elastomeric stamp pattern. Energizing the electrodes will create an attractive force that causes the elastomeric features to deform much as they would at a printing interface. This will result in actuator behavior characterized by the actuator force and the stiffness of the stamp features.
Closed loop feedback control is achieved using electrostatic actuators for local stamp control and optical sensing to determine the feedback variable. This control variable can be used to calculate controller error, which determines the dynamic behavior of the controller and actuator signals. The independent local pressure zones can be used to control contact behavior, for example along the contact interface between a printing roller and impression roller.