3D printed microfluidic channels on a curved surface. (Credit: McAlpine Group, University of Minnesota)

Researchers have 3D printed unique fluid channels at the micron scale that could automate production of diagnostics, sensors, and assays used for a variety of medical tests and other applications. The team is the first to 3D print these structures on a curved surface, providing the initial step for someday printing them directly on the skin for real-time sensing of bodily fluids.

The team used a custom-built 3D printer to directly print the microfluidic channels on a surface in an open lab environment. The channels are about 300 μm in diameter. The team showed that the fluid flow through the channels could be controlled, pumped, and redirected using a series of valves.

Printing these microfluidic channels outside of a cleanroom setting could provide for robotic-based automation and portability in producing these devices. For the first time, the researchers were also able to print microfluidics directly onto a curved surface. In addition, they integrated them with electronic sensors for lab-on-a-chip sensing capabilities.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2020 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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