3D printed microfluidics

Project Category: Scientific Instruments

Community: Sensorica

Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel image

In-house 3D printed microfluidic chip

In-house chip fabrication

Copy of Sensing and sensemaking for glocal food systems

Presentation - the big picture

Other micro-measurement techniques developed in-house.


  • Design and build the quality control and certification infrastructure for the emerging glocal food system.

  • Build a network around bio-chemical sensing.

The ultimate goal is to put in place a modular lab-on-a-chip sensor technology/platform for testing and certification, based on an open standard that remains to be defined. This system can be integrated with peer-to-peer markets for distribution of agricultural products and food.


  • Toxicity and quality testing, certification (food and others)

  • Soil characterization

  • Water quality testing


We are building an ecosystem of and independent hardware hackers to work on lab-on-a-chip for bio-chemical detection.

SENSORICA Montreal in-house development

Short-term goals

  • Articulate a vision for the future of the food system, its infrastructure, quality control system

  • Translate the vision and actual needs into technical requirements, brake it down into individual projects that can be distributed to different research labs based on their specialization.

  • Build a network of research labs for bio-chemical sensing and lab-on-a-chip technology.

Long-term goals

  • Design (or adopt/adapt an existing one) a standard for quality control and certification for the future food system.

  • Design a modular lab-on-a-chip -based quality testing and certification platform.

  • Design and build individual quality test modules suited for specific applications, start with high value applications.


  • Write the vision document

  • Build a network and get a collaboration grant for innovation and tech transfer.


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.


Communication and coordination

Communication channels

Coordination tools


Status: Talking with researchers, engaging existing local food networks to understand how they operate and to get them formulate their actual and future needs in terms of testing and certification.


  • Bio- chemical sensing, optics, photonics, microfluidics, lab-on-a-chip, microfabrication...

  • Network building

  • Technical writing and grant writing

  • Office tasks and coordination

Documentation repository

Diigo (tag lab-on-a-chip) | Photos | Videos


Sources of revenue: Short-term we count on research grants. Longer term we'll count on the distribution of solutions and associated ecosystem services. Crowdfunding for smaller projects of prototyping are also an option.

Access to built capital and social capital: we are planning to integrate at least 5 University labs from Quebec, Ontario and Ohio USA.

First-hand access to co-developed knowledge and know how.

See Sensorica's Business Model.


more on Governance page
PROJECTS are seen as COLLABORATIVE VENTURES, which are TRANSPARENT (anyone has access to the information that they produce) and OPEN (anyone can participate). They only produce PRODUCTS and services based on OPEN SOURCE knowledge or technology. PROJECTS have a CUSTODIAN that represents them legally and acts as a trust for their tangible assets. PROJECTS can have multiple EXCHANGE FIRMS, which are commercial entities that move products and services developed by PROJECTS on the MARKET. EXCHANGE FIRMS oblige themselves by contract with the CUSTODIAN to share PROFIT with all contributors to PROJECTS, from which they commercialize PRODUCTS.

Open Project governance document

[Instruction: link to governance doc, use template to create governance - delete this after]

Organisational context

  • Network/Community: ...

  • Custodian: ...

  • Exchange firm: ...


  • Custodian Agreement [provide link]

  • Exchange Firm Agreement [provide link]

  • Project Governance Template [provide link]