Rapid prototyping of microchannels with surface patterns for fabrication of polymer fibers†
Microfluidic technology has provided innovative solutions to numerous problems, but the cost of designing and fabricating microfluidic channels is impeding its expansion. In this work, Shrinky-Dink thermoplastic sheets are used to create multilayered complex templates for microfluidic channels. We used inkjet and laserjet printers to raise a predetermined microchannel geometry by depositing several layers of ink for each feature consecutively. We achieved feature heights over 100 μm, which were measured and compared with surface profilometry. Templates closest to the target geometry were then used to create microfluidic devices from soft-lithography with the molds as a template. These microfluidic devices were in turn used to fabricate polymer microfibers using the microfluidic focusing approach to demonstrate the potential that this process has for microfluidic applications. Finally, an economic analysis was conducted to compare the price of common microfluidic template manufacturing methods. We showed that multilayer microchannels can be created significantly quicker and cheaper than current methods for design prototyping and point-of-care applications in the biomedical area.