Accelerating innovation and commercialization through standardization of microfluidic-based medical devices
Worldwide, the microfluidics industry has grown steadily over the last 5 years, with the market for microfluidic medical devices experiencing a compound growth rate of 22%. The number of submissions of microfluidic-based devices to regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has also steadily increased, creating a strong demand for the development of consistent and accessible tools for evaluating microfluidics-based devices. The microfluidics community has been slow, or even reluctant, to adopt standards and guidelines, which are needed for harmonization and for assisting academia, researchers, designers, and industry across all stages of product development. Appropriate assessments of device performance also remain a bottleneck for microfluidic devices. Standards reside at the core of mature supply chains generating economies of scale and forging a consistent pathway to match stakeholder expectations, thus creating a foundation for successful commercialization. This article provides a unique perspective on the need for the development of standards specific to the emerging biomedical field of microfluidics. Our aim is to facilitate innovation by encouraging the microfluidics community to work together to help bridge knowledge gaps and improve efficiency in getting high-quality microfluidic medical devices to market faster. We start by acknowledging the progress that has been made in various areas over the past decade. We then describe the existing gaps in the standardization of flow control, interconnections, component integration, manufacturing, assembly, packaging, reliability, performance of microfluidic elements and safety testing of microfluidic devices throughout the entire product life cycle.