The state of the art in microfluidics, which allow integration of many medical tests on a single chip, will be a highlight at MD&M West, Feb. 7-9 in Anaheim, California. The global market for microfluidic devices is expected to go as high as $798.4 billion by the end of 2021 with an annual growth rate exceeding 20 percent, according to a recent research report.
Plustech, Schaumburg, Illinois, will demonstrate medical microfluidic molding with the Sodick GL30 micro injection molding machine. The mold will be supplied by Plustech customer, Plas-Tech Engineering, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The molded material will be Topas COC material 8007×10. Automation supplied by Star Automation will include a side-entry robot that will remove the part from the mold.
The Sodick GL30 uses a V-Line two-stage plunger system, which separates the plasticization and injection processes for what is described as consistent measurement and injection of the melt stream. The 30-ton machine incorporates a hybrid clamping mechanism utilizing an upgraded servo motor-controlled hydraulic pumping system.
Dolomite’s Fluidic Factory, a commercially available 3D printer for sealed microfluidic devices, will be on display at the Topas Advanced Polymers’ booth. It will produce a variety of microfluidic demonstration parts.
The Fluidic Factory is used for rapid prototyping of fluidically sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors, and medical devices. The additive manufacturing process allows creation of geometries, particularly complex, internal features not possible with machining, etching, or injection molding.
The Dolomite printer can create devices that seal at higher pressures than are possible with conventional 3D printers. The maximum sealing pressure is 10-20 bar. Also, the plastics used with traditional 3D printers, such as ABS or PLA, are not appropriate for microdfluidics due to lack of transparency or biocompatability. Dolomite is the sole supplier of the COC filaments.
In one example of how the Fluidic Factory is optimized for creating tight seals for microfluidics, it uses a “squashed” bead method when depositing beads as opposed to many traditional FDM printers which deposit beads in circular cross-sections.
COC (cyclic olefin copolymer) is often used for microfluidic devices because it is a hard, transparent, and biologically compatible polymer.