Thermoplastic elastomers for microfluidics: Towards a high-throughput fabrication method of multilayered microfluidic devices

E. Roy , J.C. Galas , T. Veres

Bibtex , URL
Lab Chip, 11, 18
Published 01 Jan. 2011
DOI: 10.1039/c1lc20251k
ISSN: 1473-0197


Multilayer soft lithography of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a well-known method for the fabrication of complex fluidic functions. With advantages and drawbacks, this technique allows fabrication of valves, pumps and micro-mixers. However, the process is inadequate for industrial applications. Here, we report a rapid prototyping technique for the fabrication of multilayer microfluidic devices, using a different and promising class of polymers. Using styrenic thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), we demonstrate a rapid technique for the fabrication and assembly of pneumatically driven valves in a multilayer microfluidic device made completely from thermoplastics. This material solution is transparent, biocompatible and as flexible as PDMS, and has high throughput thermoforming processing characteristics. We established a proof of principle for valving and mixing with three different grades of TPE using an SU-8 master mold. Specific viscoelastic properties of each grade allow us to report enhanced bonding capabilities from room temperature bonding to free pressure thermally assisted bonding. In terms of microfabrication, beyond classically embossing means, we demonstrate a high-throughput thermoforming method, where TPE molding experiments have been carried out without applied pressure and vacuum assistance within an overall cycle time of 180 s. The quality of the obtained thermoplastic systems show robust behavior and an opening/closing frequency of 5 Hz.