Computer-aided microfluidics (CAMF): from digital 3D-CAD models to physical structures within a day

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce computer-aided microfluidics (CAMF), a process that allows the creation of complex microfluidic structures from their concept to the actual chip within a day. During design and testing of new microfluidic systems, rapid and frequent design modifications have to be carried out. For this purpose, a device using maskless projection lithography based on a digital mirror device (DMD) has been developed. Digital mask layouts may be created using any graphics program (Microsoft Paint, Adobe Photoshop) and can be used as such by the custom-written control software of the system. However, we suggest using another approach: direct importing of three-dimensional digital computer-aided design (CAD) models from which mask information can be directly parsed. This process is advantageous as commercial 3D-CAD systems allow the rapid generation of static or parameterized models which can be used for computerized analyses like, e.g., flow simulation. After model validation, the mask information is extracted from these models and directly used by the lithography device. A chip or replication master is then created by means of lithography using curable monomers or resists as, e.g., Accura 60 or SU-8. With CAMF, the whole process from digital 3D model creation to actually running the experiment can be done within a day.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the ‘Concept for the Future’ of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) within the framework of the German Excellence Initiative.

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Correspondence to Ansgar Waldbaur.

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Waldbaur, A., Carneiro, B., Hettich, P. et al. Computer-aided microfluidics (CAMF): from digital 3D-CAD models to physical structures within a day. Microfluid Nanofluid 15, 625–635 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-013-1177-x

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Keywords

  • Microfluidics
  • Computer aided
  • Projection lithography
  • Chip manufacturing
  • Rapid prototyping