Over the past few years there has been a great deal of interest in reducing experimental systems to a lab-on-a-chip scale. There has been particular interest in conducting high-throughput screening studies using microscale devices, for example in stem cell research. Microwells have emerged as the structure of choice for such tests. Most manufacturing approaches for microwell fabrication are based on photolithography, soft lithography, and etching. However, some of these approaches require extensive equipment, lengthy fabrication process, and modifications to the existing microwell patterns are costly. Here we show a convenient, fast, and low-cost method for fabricating microwells for cell culture applications by laser ablation of a polyester film coated with silicone glue. Microwell diameter was controlled by adjusting the laser power and speed, and the well depth by stacking several layers of film. By using this setup, a device containing hundreds of microwells can be fabricated in a few minutes to analyze cell behavior. Murine embryonic stem cells and human hepatoblastoma cells were seeded in polyester microwells of different sizes and showed that after 9 days in culture cell aggregates were formed without a noticeable deleterious effect of the polyester film and glue. These results show that the polyester microwell platform may be useful for cell culture applications. The ease of fabrication adds to the appeal of this device as minimal technological skill and equipment is required.
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