The rapid translation of research from bench to bedside, as well as the generation of commercial impact, has never been more important for both academic and industrial researchers. It is therefore unsurprising that more and more microfluidic groups are investigating research using a wide range of thermoplastics which can be readily translated to large-scale manufacturing, if the technology is taken to commercialisation. While structuring, via additive or subtractive manufacturing, is becoming relatively easy through the use of commercial-grade devices, reliable and fast assembly remains a challenge. In this article, we propose an innocuous and cost-effective, under 2-min technique which enables the bonding of multiple poly(methyl methacrylate) layers. This bonding technique relies on the application of small amounts (10 µl/cm2) of ethanol, low temperatures (70 °C) and relatively low pressures (~1.6 MPa). Our characterisation analysis shows that using a bonding time of 2 min is enough to produce a strong bond able to withstand pressures always above 6.2 MPa (with mean of 8 MPa, highest reported in the literature), with minimal channel deformation (<5%). This technique, which we demonstrate on assembly comprising up to 19 layers, presents an exciting improvement in the field of rapid prototyping of microfluidic devices, enabling extremely fast design cycles in microfluidic research with a material compatible with mass manufacturing, thus allowing a smoother transition from the laboratory to the market. Beyond the research community, this robust prototyping technique has the potential to impact on the deliverability of other scientific endeavours including educational projects and will directly fuel the fluidic maker movement.
- Rapid prototyping
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- School of Engineering & Physical Sciences - Professor
- School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering - Professor
Person: Academic (Research & Teaching)