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PolyJet 3D-Printed Enclosed Microfluidic Channels without Photocurable Supports

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journal contribution
posted on 30.04.2019, 00:00 by Andre D. Castiaux, Cody W. Pinger, Elizabeth A. Hayter, Marcus E. Bunn, R. Scott Martin, Dana M. Spence
Microfluidic devices have historically been prepared using fabrication techniques that often include photolithography and/or etching. Recently, additive manufacturing technologies, commonly known as 3D-printing, have emerged as fabrication tools for microfluidic devices. Unfortunately, PolyJet 3D-printing, which utilizes a photocurable resin that can be accurately printed, requires the use of support material for any designed void space internal to the model. Removing the support material from the printed channels is difficult in small channels with single dimensions of less than ∼200 μm and nearly impossible to remove from designs that contain turns or serpentines. Here, we describe techniques for printing channels ranging in cross sections from 0.6 cm × 1.5 cm to 125 μm × 54 μm utilizing commercially available PolyJet printers that require minimal to no postprocessing to form sealed channels. Specifically, printer software manipulation allows printing of one model with an open channel or void that is sealed with either a viscous liquid or a polycarbonate membrane (no commercially available support material). The printer stage is then adjusted and a second model is printed directly on top of the first model with the selected support system. Both the liquid-fill and the membrane method have enough structural integrity to support the printing resin while it is being cured. Importantly, such complex channel geometries as serpentine and Y-mixers can be designed, printed, and in use in under 2 h. We demonstrate device utility by measuring ATP release from flowing red blood cells using a luciferin/luciferase chemiluminescent assay that involves on-chip mixing and optical detection.