Fundamentals of rapid injection molding for microfluidic cell-based assays†
Microscale cell-based assays have demonstrated unique capabilities in reproducing important cellular behaviors for diagnostics and basic biological research. As these assays move beyond the prototyping stage and into biological and clinical research environments, there is a need to produce microscale culture platforms more rapidly, cost-effectively, and reproducibly. ‘Rapid’ injection molding is poised to meet this need as it enables some of the benefits of traditional high volume injection molding at a fraction of the cost. However, rapid injection molding has limitations due to the material and methods used for mold fabrication. Here, we characterize advantages and limitations of rapid injection molding for microfluidic device fabrication through measurement of key features for cell culture applications including channel geometry, feature consistency, floor thickness, and surface polishing. We demonstrate phase contrast and fluorescence imaging of cells grown in rapid injection molded devices and provide design recommendations to successfully utilize rapid injection molding methods for microscale cell-based assay development in academic laboratory settings.