One step microfluidic device prototyping using a 3D printer

posted Oct 18, 2013, 12:09 PM by Tiberius Brastaviceanu   [ updated Oct 27, 2013, 12:32 AM ]
We used a B9Creator 3D printer and a soft polymer Spot-E elastic. We made 4 iterations of a simple design (see them on 3DWarehouse, and Thingiverse). The main goal is to estimate the potential of 3D printers in lab-on-a-chip prototyping. The channels are only 200 microns wide and 100 microns deep. 

Usually, microfluidic devices are made of PDMS with a glass cover on top. The PDMS is patterned using a master silicon wafer, which itself is patterned using VERY expensive techniques (chemical etching, laser and ion beam ablation, etc.), requiring clean rooms and highly skilled individuals. A one-step 3D printing method for prototyping would dramatically reduce the development costs and time. For example, we had 4 iterations of the same design within only 2 hours, based on feedback from water-based fluid propagation tests as seen in the video below.  

Problems with this first trial: some linkage outside of the channel due to surface imperfections. We are now trying thermal post-treatment, chemical post-treatment, and new mechanical designs with better seals.  

We believe that 3D printing has the potential to bring lab-on-a-chip in everyone's garage or to a fab lab near you.

NOTE: we are also launching a project for a micro 3D printer, contact us to know more or to get involved. 

testing a device

the printing process

R&D notes

Open doc to edit (members only)