AI Tech/Innovation/Robotics/3D Printing/Business.

Advancing microfluidics high-resolution 3D Printing of microfluidic chips.

Posted on

Microfluidics, precision, and scalability are often no wider than human hair, which play a pivotal role in various fields, from biomedicine to chemistry. Conventional manufacturing methods have served their purpose but come with limitations, including complex fabrication processes and cost inefficiencies.

A team of researchers, led by Zhuming Luo from the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering in China, has introduced an innovative digital light processing (DLP) method that could potentially revolutionize microfluidic chip production. In a recent report published in Microsystems and Nanoengineering, they unveiled their groundbreaking approach, promising high-resolution microchannels with improved mechanical stability. Microfluidic chips are vital components in applications such as 3D cell culture, drug screening, and organ-on-a-chip assays. Traditional manufacturing methods like soft lithography and hot embossing, while effective, come with challenges. They involve intricate processes, low productivity, and substantial costs. The rise of 3D bioprinting has brought new possibilities, and digital light processing has played a significant role. It enables layer-by-layer vat photopolymerization, providing rapid processing speed and precision. However, prior limitations existed in terms of resolution and scalability.

The research team introduced the dosing- and zoning-regulated vat photopolymerization (DZC-VPP) method, a novel approach to high-resolution microfluidic chip fabrication. They addressed the challenge of achieving both precision and scalability, which are crucial for microfluidic devices’ widespread applications.

Key features of the DZC-VPP method include:

  1. Precise UV Irradiance Control: The team developed a mathematical model to predict UV irradiance for resin photopolymerization, enabling precise control over the printing process.
  2. Multi-Layered Design: The method divides microchannels into several layers, allowing for precise regulation of local resin polymerization. This approach improves printing fidelity and the internal surface quality of microchannels.
  3. Improved Mechanical Stability: The DZC-VPP fabricated chips demonstrated higher fracture stress and strain compared to conventional methods, indicating enhanced mechanical stability.

The DZC-VPP method offers numerous advantages:

  • Biocompatibility: It is suitable for cell-related applications, with cell-laden microgels showing excellent biocompatibility.
  • Droplet Generation: The method enables the generation of monodisperse droplets, a crucial aspect of microfluidic applications.
  • Organ-on-a-Chip: This innovative fabrication method holds promise for developing organ-on-a-chip instruments, advancing research in drug testing and disease modeling.

The DZC-VPP method represents a significant leap forward in the world of microfluidics. Its ability to combine high-resolution printing, mechanical stability, and scalability opens doors to a wide range of applications in biomedicine and beyond. As researchers continue to refine and expand upon this method, we can anticipate groundbreaking developments in the field of microfluidic chip manufacturing.

By Thamarasee Jeewandara, A modern digital light processing technology to 3D print microfluidic chips.

Formnext forum Austin navigating the future of 3D Printing in an unpredictable world.

Posted on Updated on

The 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) industry has always felt like it’s on the verge of something big, only to face setbacks. Just when it’s about to make significant strides, unexpected hurdles arise, setting it back. Formnext Forum Austin 2023 hinted at the possibility of a year filled with uninterrupted progress in the 3D printing world. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key takeaways from this event and why 2024 might be a pivotal year for the industry.
Formnext Forum’s choice of Austin for its inaugural event reflects the journey of the AM sector itself—full of fits and starts. Interestingly, the event will not return to Austin in the coming years; instead, it will move to Chicago in 2024 and 2025. This shift mirrors the industry’s history, adapting and evolving based on the available choices and conditions at hand.
Much like the AM industry, which has had to navigate through challenges, including the choice of event location, Formnext Forum Austin faced logistical hurdles due to its timing and location. But, it’s also a testament to the resilience of the industry and its ability to adapt.
Formnext Forum Austin proved to be a unique and social experience for attendees. Despite the scorching Texas heat and outdoor gatherings, participants found themselves enjoying the camaraderie. It was more like an indoor company barbecue with presentations, fostering connections and relationships within the AM community.
The significance of 2024 as a turning point for the AM industry became apparent during the event. Several developments, including Apple’s confirmation of using 3D printing for the Apple Watch Ultra, signaled a shift. This move towards using AM for consumer electronics suggests that the industry is on the brink of significant changes.
While 2024 holds promise, the AM sector faces two major challenges—workforce development and cybersecurity. The need for a skilled workforce in the manufacturing sector is greater than ever, and cybersecurity is essential for the industry’s growth.
To overcome these challenges, collaboration is crucial. Industry players, including 3D printing OEMs, need to work together towards a common goal. Samuel Manning from Markforged emphasized the importance of unity within the sector, paving the way for future success.
Formnext Forum Austin 2023 offered a glimpse into an exciting and unpredictable future for the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry. While challenges lie ahead, the spirit of collaboration and the resilience of the AM community provides hope for a year of unprecedented progress in 2024 and beyond. The journey may have been filled with ups and downs, but it’s clear that the industry is on the cusp of something transformative.

8 hours. By Matt Kremenetsky.

The Storm Before the Storm: Formnext Forum Austin Signals the Dizzying Year ahead for 3D Printing.