Microfluidic “lab on a chip” devices and 3D printing are being paired together by researchers at Brigham Young University. The team wanted to improve the effectiveness of such devices, which can be less than 100 micrometers. A report from Lab on a Chip outlined how the technology can better identify disease biomarkers.
Led by Researchers Greg Nordin, an electrical engineering professor at BYU, and Adam Woolley, a chemistry professor at BYU, a group of researchers built 3D printers that used a custom resin to produce a lap on a chip with flow channel cross sections as small as 18 by 20 micrometers.
"Others have 3D-printed fluidic channels, but they haven't been able to make them small enough for microfluidics," Nordin said. "So we decided to make our own 3D printer and research a resin that could do it. We're deliberately trying to start a revolution in how microfluidic devices are fabricated.”
The improvement reduces turn-around time for the lab on the chip, with researchers being able to create one in 30 minutes. Woolley said the paper represents an improvement of a factor of 100 on the size of features that are now possible in 3D-printed microfluidics.nts.
"It's not just a little step; it's a huge leap from one size regime to a previously inaccessible size regime for 3D printing," Woolley said. "It opens up a lot of doors for making microfluidics more easily and inexpensively."