CADworks3Dis setting the pace in the realm of 3D-printed PDMS devices. The landscape of fabricating PDMS devices for microfluidic applications has witnessed remarkable progress in recent years.
We’ve moved away from traditional techniques like photolithography towards more cost-effective alternatives, such as soft lithography.
However, an exciting new frontier is emerging as researchers explore the integration of 3D printing and how it can seamlessly fit into existing device fabrication workflows.
The Evolution from Photolithography to Soft Lithography
In the early days of microfluidic research, photolithography was the go-to method for creating microstructures and patterns on microfluidic devices.
It involved intricate chemical processes, cleanroom facilities, and photomasks to create precise patterns on materials like silicon wafers or glass slides.
But, photolithography had its limitations. It was expensive, required specialized equipment, and wasn’t well-suited for producing complex, three-dimensional designs.
Multilayer structures, or 3D microfluidic systems were particularly challenging to create using this method.
Soft lithography came to the rescue, offering a more cost-effective, user-friendly, and versatile approach to microfluidic device fabrication. This technique relies on elastomeric materials, with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) being the frontrunner. Soft lithography starts with the creation of a master mold, often produced using photolithography.
PDMS is then poured onto the master mold, cured,
and peeled off to create a replica. This replica is bonded to a substrate to form a sealed microfluidic device. One of its major advantages is the ability to produce multiple PDMS devices from a single master mold quickly.
Accelerating the Soft Lithography Process with 3D Printed Master Molds
The integration of 3D printing into the soft lithography workflow represents the next phase in the evolution of microfluidic device fabrication.
Photolithography has long been the standard for master mold fabrication, but it’s costly, time-consuming, and limited in creating complex or three-dimensional designs rapidly.
3D printing is changing the game by providing an efficient method for producing master molds.
This innovation enables rapid prototyping, allowing researchers to iterate and modify their designs swiftly, reducing both time and costs associated with traditional mold fabrication. Microfluidic devices become highly customizable, catering to specific application requirements.
The CADworks3D Solution for PDMS Devices
Canadian-based CADworks3D is at the forefront of 3D printing for PDMS devices, offering an all-encompassing solution.
CADworks3D has developed a 3D printing solution tailored specifically for PDMS device fabrication. With this solution, researchers can 3D print, clean, and cure a master mold within hours. In just one working day, a PDMS device is ready for bonding to a substrate.
Their flagship DLP 3D printer, the ProFluidics 285D, is designed exclusively for microfluidics applications. It operates using dynamic pixel advantage technology, producing 3D-printed devices that closely resemble the original CAD design.
This printer excels in creating intricate three-dimensional micro features, such as serpentine channels, micro wells, and domes, with smooth surface finishes and properly resolved curves.
When used in conjunction with CADworks3D’s Master Mold for PDMS Device Resin, researchers can create master molds with 50µm open channels and a surface roughness value (Ra) of 0.18µm.
This photopolymer resin streamlines the fabrication process, eliminating the need for release agents, coatings, or pre-treatment processes for a successful PDMS cast.
Remarkably, one 3D-printed master mold can be used to create over 500 PDMS devices with proper care, and these master molds don’t leach any chemicals, ensuring the biocompatibility of the casted PDMS devices.
By merging soft lithography with 3D printing, researchers gain access to rapid prototyping capabilities and the power to create customized, intricate three-dimensional microfluidic devices.
This integration holds the promise of innovative applications across various scientific disciplines and industries, bringing us closer to accessible and tailored microfluidic solutions at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
The evolution of microfluidic device fabrication has taken an exciting turn with the integration of 3D printing. CADworks3D, a leader in this field, has developed an efficient solution that streamlines the process of creating PDMS devices.
With 3D printing, researchers can quickly iterate designs, reduce costs, and create highly customized, intricate microfluidic devices. This innovative approach from CADworks3D is poised to revolutionize microfluidic applications, making them more accessible and cost-effective than ever before.