First microfluidics 3D printer uses cyclic olefin copolymer from Topas

Fluidic Factory prototyping system enables creation of geometries and features not possible with other manufacturing techniques

Topas Advanced Polymers (Frankfurt-Hoechst, Germany), a supplier of cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs) for healthcare, packaging and electronics applications, has singled out microfluidics and diagnostics as a significant trend in healthcare. At its stand at K 2016, the company featured a product that moves this technology forward and does so with extensive use of COCs: The first commercially available 3D printer for sealed microfluidic devices, developed by Dolomite (Royston, UK).

Dolomite fluidic factoryThe Fluidic Factory enables rapid prototyping of fluidically-sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors and medical devices. The 3D printer is designed for use with Topas 8007S-04, a standard injection molding grade for high-performance medical and optical applications. Topas COC is recognized as the industry standard in microfluidics and diagnostics because of its clarity, purity, superior chemical resistance and UV transparency, according to Timothy Kneale, President of Topas Advanced Polymers.

The device offers rapid and reliable printing of microfluidic devices at an economical cost, according to Dolomite Microfluidics. The Fluidic Factory ensures reliable sealing of fluidic paths, allowing the creation of precise channel geometries and features not possible using etching, embossing, molding, or machining techniques. 

Users can choose a design from the selection in the Fluidic Factory's Design Library, or create and print their own unique device using virtually any CAD software. With this complete design flexibility, the Fluidic Factory is suited for a range of applications, including organ-on-a-chip, point-of-care diagnostics, drug development, education, chemical synthesis and analytical and biomedical assays, according to Dolomite.

Thanks to the material’s 92% clarity and mold detail, well counts are maximized, flow channels can be incorporated and analyses are optimized, says Topas. Topas’s COC has lower leachables and extractables than competing materials, according to the company, and its inert nature prevents interference with reactions and analyses. Other important features include the best available UV transparency of any plastic and low autofluorescence.

An added advantage in this particular application is that the same material can be used from start up to commercial-scale injection molding.

“We gave careful consideration to a range of materials for our breakthrough 3D fluidics printer and selected Topas COC due to the unique properties and benefits it offers over other polymers, making it ideal for microfluidics in biology and medical environments,” said Dr. Omar Jina, Dolomite’s Chief Commercial Officer. “It is the polymer most frequently requested by biologists and has won acceptance in the microfluidics industry.”

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