3D printed microfluidic circuitry via multijet-based additive manufacturing†
The miniaturization of integrated fluidic processors affords extensive benefits for chemical and biological fields, yet traditional, monolithic methods of microfabrication present numerous obstacles for the scaling of fluidic operators. Recently, researchers have investigated the use of additive manufacturing or “three-dimensional (3D) printing” technologies – predominantly stereolithography – as a promising alternative for the construction of submillimeter-scale fluidic components. One challenge, however, is that current stereolithography methods lack the ability to simultaneously print sacrificial support materials, which limits the geometric versatility of such approaches. In this work, we investigate the use of multijet modelling (alternatively, polyjet printing) – a layer-by-layer, multi-material inkjetting process – for 3D printing geometrically complex, yet functionally advantageous fluidic components comprised of both static and dynamic physical elements. We examine a fundamental class of 3D printed microfluidic operators, including fluidic capacitors, fluidic diodes, and fluidic transistors. In addition, we evaluate the potential to advance on-chip automation of integrated fluidic systems via geometric modification of component parameters. Theoretical and experimental results for 3D fluidic capacitors demonstrated that transitioning from planar to non-planar diaphragm architectures improved component performance. Flow rectification experiments for 3D printed fluidic diodes revealed a diodicity of 80.6 ± 1.8. Geometry-based gain enhancement for 3D printed fluidic transistors yielded pressure gain of 3.01 ± 0.78. Consistent with additional additive manufacturing methodologies, the use of digitally-transferrable 3D models of fluidic components combined with commercially-available 3D printers could extend the fluidic routing capabilities presented here to researchers in fields beyond the core engineering community.
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