Systematically Studying Dissolution Process of 3D Printed Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Mold for Creation of Complex and Fully Transparent Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Fluidic Devices


Our major objective in this study was to create complex, three-dimensional, and fully transparent polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) fluidic device by revising the previously reported fabrication process and to systematically study the influence of each fabrication step to the final PDMS fluidic device. The current fabrication process adopted fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers to create molds of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) for use in PDMS casting, then solvent solution was used to dissolve the ABS mold embedded inside the PDMS device and a transparent PDMS device was created for experiments. However, it is quite challenging to ensure the complete removal of ABS molds inside the long, curly, and narrow channels. Ultrasonication was added into our fabrication process to improve the efficacy of dissolving ABS molds inside the channels and conclusions can be derived from these experiments: (1) ultrasonication-assisted dissolution is an effective approach to the complete removal of ABS molds embedded inside these long, curly, and narrow channels (for example, the mixer demonstrated herein had a diameter of 2 mm and length of 162 mm); (2) the application of solvent vapor polishing to 3D-printed molds is highly effective in reducing the surface roughness of the molds (8 ~ 10 μm before polishing to 038 ~ 0.5 μm after polishing) and important to preserve the transparency of the resulting PDMS devices; (3) ensuring the circulation of fresh solvent solution is critical to shorten the dissolution process.

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This work was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST 108-2221-E-011-144-MY2) and the Mechanical Engineering Department of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST).

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Correspondence to Pin-Chuan Chen.

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Chen, PC., Chou, C.C. & Chiang, C.H. Systematically Studying Dissolution Process of 3D Printed Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Mold for Creation of Complex and Fully Transparent Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Fluidic Devices. BioChip J 15, 144–151 (2021).

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  • 3D transparent PDMS fluidic device
  • Ultrasonication dissolution process
  • 3D printing