New article: 3D Printed Tooling for Injection Moulded Microfluidics

New article from Nikolaj Gadegaard and Gareth Sullivan with Sean Harrison in the journal: Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.


Microfluidics have been used for several decades to conduct a wide range of research in chemistry and the life sciences. The reduced dimensions of these devices give them advantages over classical analysis techniques such as increased sensitivity, shorter analysis times, and lower reagent consumption. However, current manufacturing processes for microfluidic chips either limits them to materials with unwanted properties, or are not cost-effective enough for rapid-prototyping approaches. Here we show that inlays for injection moulding can be 3D printed, thus reducing the skills, cost, and time required for tool fabrication. We demonstrate the importance of orientation of the part during 3D printing so that features as small as 100 × 200 μm can be printed. We also demonstrate that the 3D printed inlay is durable enough to fabricate at least 500 parts. Furthermore, devices can be designed, manufactured, and tested within one working day. Finally, as demonstrators we design and mould a microfluidic chip to house a plasmonic biosensor as well as a device to house liver organoids showing how such chips can be used in organ-on-a-chip applications. This new fabrication technique bridges the gap between small production and industrial scale manufacturing, whilst making microfluidics cheaper, and more widely accessible.

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Published Oct. 11, 2021 3:22 PM - Last modified Oct. 11, 2021 3:22 PM