Earlier this year (2017) in Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University engineers and chemists have successfully 3D-printed the first truly microfluidic “Lab-on-a-Chip” device. This success of accessing the sub-100 micrometer regime is the sweet spot for measuring cellular and sub-cellular structures and processes.
The conventional way of 3D printing fluidic channels have yielded sizes between 100-500 micrometers.
Microfluidic devices… what are they?
Microfluidic devices are tiny chips that can sort out disease biomarkers, cells, and other small structures in samples like blood by using microscopic channels incorporated into the devices. This accomplishment is an incredible breakthrough toward mass-producing the medical diagnostic devices cheaply, which is also detailed in the latest issue of the academic journal Lab on a Chip.
“We’re deliberately trying to start a revolution in how microfluidic devices are fabricated,” Nordin says. For engineers who specialize in microdevices, this is a very big deal. This breakthrough in the sub-100micrometer regime gives researchers more affordable access to microdevices in the same size regime as complex commercially made devices. 3D printing could propel microfluidics to new heights in mainstream biological research and clinical diagnostics.
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