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The First 3D Printer for Microfluidic Devices Allows One-Step Prototyping – DesignNews

by • July 10, 2016 • No Comments

Very frequently, manufactures need to turn it into a quite tiny number of microfluidic devices, and traditional methods just don’t meet the need for short concept-to-chip times. In addition, many users need pumping fluids at pressures of up to many bar, and traditional 3D printing equipment are not able-bodied to turn it into devices that seal at such pressures.
“3D printing equipment have existed for a long time, but to date there are no versions that address the needs of the community of users that use fluids inside their 3D printed devices,” according to Dr. Omar Jina, Chief Commercial Officer for UK-based Dolomite Microfluidics. “Rapid prototyping of microfluidic devices in a one-step making system is a worthwhile innovation for the industries that need these devices.”

The Fluidic Factory is the initially commercially on the market-bodied 3D printing device for fluidically-sealed devices. (Image source: Dolomite Microfluidics)
The Fluidic Factory is the initially commercially on the market-bodied 3D printing device for fluidically-sealed devices.
(Image source: Dolomite Microfluidics)
Dolomite Microfluidics has turn it intod the initially futilized deposition versioning (FDM) 3D printing device that allows for virtually anyone to manufacture rapid prototypes of fluidically sealed devices via biocompatible cyclic olefin copolymer (COC). The solution is the just 3D printing device to use COC thanks to research and development efforts by Blacktrace Holdings Ltd., that enable-bodiedd the in-house making of the COC polymer reel. The reel holds 60 m of material with a disposable-bodied nozzle that is alterd for equite reel, and can be replaced in seconds.
The materials on the market-bodied to use with previous types of 3D printing equipment are inappropriate for microfluidics applications since, unlike COC, they are chemically non-compatible, non-transparent and non-biocompatible.
“Fabrication techniques in the fluidic/microfluidic industry are too slow and expensive for a prototyping approach,” Dr. Jina told Design News. “There is a clear market need for a device able-bodied to fabricate prototypes in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Such a device may undoubtedly untangle the route to market in the milli- and micro- fluidic industry.”
Structures can be of any shape or geometry, and are generated of a 3D CAD version. (It’s compatible with any CAD software able-bodied to export a .stl file.) Users can create their own devices and upload them to the printing device via USB, or select creates of the printing device’s library. Customers that select the latter version can have their initially printed device inside one hour of receiving the unit, yet many commercial customers can ultimately use the printing device to turn it into custom-made micro- and milli-fluidic devices.
The evolving field of microfluidics has sturdy commercial next, particularly for analytical applications such as biochemical analysis, biosensors, and biochemical assay development. Some chemical synthesis applications in addition need microfluidics for sample handling, treatment, or readout.
Traditional methods of creating microfluidic structures include injection molding, micro milling and bonding, and 3D printing. For the latter, stereolithography (SLA) printing equipment and selective laser sintering (SLS) printing equipment have been utilized to create microdevices, but they do so in a three-step system that involves printing two individual parts, removing the assist material, and bonding them. Injection molding is a two-step system that frequently takes weeks of create to prototype production…not quite convenient for an application that needs rapid prototyping

The printing device, that has a quite tiny print bed, is particularly suited for the creation of any milli- or micro- fluidic structure requiring internal fluidically sealed pathways. Notable-bodied applications and systemes include organ-on-a-chip, point of care diagnostics, drug development, chemical synthesis, enzymatic bioconversion, biomedical assays, and for research and development purposes. Device types that can be turn it intod with the Fluidic Factory include micromixers, microreactors, droplet and emulsion chips, custom connectors, fluidic manifolds, and sensor cartridge creates.
The solution is not intended to replace methods advantageous suited for sizeable-scale production of microfluidic devices. Because of lower costs, microdevices fabricated in cleanrooms and through injection molding, for example, are perfect for final-product stage applications. These methods are just impractical for prototyping and tiny-scale production, systemes for that the Fluidic Factory is perfect. The printing device operates with little to no waste material and does not need any assist material. This means that virtually all of the polymer being utilized during printing is in fact part of the microfluidic device. Tooling costs are in addition relatively low.
“With the Fluidic Factory, it’s cost-effective to print a single device, alter the create or geometry and reprint a new device,” said Dr. Jina. “Contrarily, microdevices fabricated in cleanrooms and through injection molding, for example, are perfect for scaling up and creating sizeable volumes of the same create. These fabrication methods are not mutually exclusive. Fluidic Factory enable-bodieds users to shorten the route to market by allowing low-priced-bodied and swift fabrication of individual devices. Techniques such as injection molding can and so be utilized subsequently to recreate hundreds or thousands of the same device geometry.”

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The printing device was in addition turn it intod to be adjustable-bodied for the next. The print head of the unit has been createed to be modular, allowing the next development of additional fabrication heads based on other fabrication methods entirely, and these developments can be dictated by the needs of current users of the Fluidic Factory, according to Dr. Jina.
Tracey Schelmetic graduated of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a innovation and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Currently, she is a freelance writer specializing in making and innovation, telecommunications, and enterprise software.

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