In this article, we focus on the enormous potential of a CO2-laser system for rapidly producing polymer microfluidic structures. The dependence was assessed of the depth and width of laser-cut channels on the laser beam power and on the number of passes of the beam along the same channel. In the experiments the laser beam power was varied between 0 and 40 W and the passes were varied in the range of 1 to 7 times. Typical channel depths were between 100 and 300 μm, while the channels were typically 250 μm wide. The narrowest produced channel was 85 μm wide. Several bonding methods for microstructured PMMA [poly(methyl methacrylate)] parts were investigated, such as solvent-assisted glueing, melting, laminating and surface activation using a plasma asher. A solvent-assisted thermal bonding method proved to be the most time-efficient one. Using laser micromachining together with bonding, a three-layer polymer microstructure with included optical fibers was fabricated within two days. The use of CO2-laser systems to produce microfluidic systems has not been published before. These systems provide a cost effective alternative to UV-laser systems and they are especially useful in microfluidic prototyping due to the very short cycle time of production.
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