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Comparing microfluidic performance of three-dimensional (3D) printing platforms

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Macdonald, NP ORCID: 0000-0001-6857-5458, Cabot, JM ORCID: 0000-0002-3305-078X, Smejkal, P, Guijt, RM ORCID: 0000-0003-0011-5708, Paull, B ORCID: 0000-0001-6373-6582 and Breadmore, MC ORCID: 0000-0001-5591-4326 2017 , 'Comparing microfluidic performance of three-dimensional (3D) printing platforms' , Analytical Chemistry, vol. 89, no. 7 , pp. 3858-3866 , doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00136.

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Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing has emerged as a potential revolutionary technology for the fabrication of microfluidic devices. A direct experimental comparison of the three 3D printing technologies dominating microfluidics was conducted using a Y-junction microfluidic device, the design of which was optimized for each printer: fused deposition molding (FDM), Polyjet, and digital light processing stereolithography (DLP-SLA). Printer performance was evaluated in terms of feature size, accuracy, and suitability for mass manufacturing; laminar flow was studied to assess their suitability for microfluidics. FDM was suitable for microfabrication with minimum features of 321 ± 5 μm, and rough surfaces of 10.97 μm. Microfluidic devices >500 μm, rapid mixing (71% ± 12% after 5 mm, 100 μL/min) was observed, indicating a strength in fabricating micromixers. Polyjet fabricated channels with a minimum size of 205 ± 13 μm, and a surface roughness of 0.99 μm. Compared with FDM, mixing decreased (27% ± 10%), but Polyjet printing is more suited for microfluidic applications where flow splitting is not required, such as cell culture or droplet generators. DLP-SLA fabricated a minimum channel size of 154 ± 10 μm, and 94 ± 7 μm for positive structures such as soft lithography templates, with a roughness of 0.35 μm. These results, in addition to low mixing (8% ± 1%), showed suitability for microfabrication, and microfluidic applications requiring precise control of flow. Through further discussion of the capabilities (and limitations) of these printers, we intend to provide guidance toward the selection of the 3D printing technology most suitable for specific microfluidic applications.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Macdonald, NP and Cabot, JM and Smejkal, P and Guijt, RM and Paull, B and Breadmore, MC
Keywords: 3D printing, microfabrication, microfluidics
Journal or Publication Title: Analytical Chemistry
Publisher: Amer Chemical Soc
ISSN: 0003-2700
DOI / ID Number: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00136
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 American Chemical SocietyACS AuthorChoice - This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.

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