Mar 16, 2016 | By Tess
Dolomite, one of the world’s leading companies specializing in the design and manufacturing of microfluidic devices and systems, has just released its latest product: a fluidics 3D printer, capable of easily and affordably manufacturing microfluidic chips. The innovative and specialized 3D printer, called the Fluidic Factory, was unveiled March 15th at the 8th Annual Lab-on-a-Chip & Microfluidic conference in Madrid, Spain.
For those unfamiliar with the specialized field of Microfluidics, it is the science of designing and making devices and structures that hold and can be used with fluid quantities on a nano scale. Dolomite, which was founded in 2005, has been working in the field of microfluidics for years and has provided a variety of clients with microfluidic products, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, government institutes, and more.
The Fluidic Factory is reportedly the first commercially available 3D printer capable of creating fluidically sealed devices. As the company explains, “The Fluidic Factory is designed for ultimate ease of use, enabling rapid prototyping of fluidically-sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors and medical devices. Its intelligent software and innovative hardware ensure reliable sealing of fluidic paths, allowing the creation of precise channel geometries and various features not possible using etching, embossing, moulding or machining techniques.”
While the science may sound complicated, the 3D printer has made the process of creating microfluidic devices much easier, as users can either choose from a selection of pre-designed microfluid chips, manifolds, and connectors, or if they’re up for it, create their own devices using CAD software. With the 3D model complete, users can simply upload the .STL file into the Fluidic Factory software, transfer it onto a USB or SD Card and plug it into the 3D printer. From there it is easy to navigate the machine through its user-friendly touch-screen interface.
“With this complete design flexibility, the Fluidic Factory is ideal for a wide range of applications, including organ-on-a-chip, point-of-care diagnostics, drug development, education, chemical synthesis, and analytical and biomedical assays,” says the company.
The machine prints with an affordable FDA approved translucent material called cyclic olefin copolymer (COC), which allows for microfluidic chips to be additively manufactured for as little as $1 per piece. Equipped with an upgradable print head, print bed, and software, the machine can also be modified and adapted for future developments, such as the use of different printing materials, as well as fluid dispensing and bioprinting.
Though evidently not a tool for the average maker, Dolomite’s affordable and high functioning microfluidic 3D printer will certainly make manufacturing microfluidic devices more affordable and accessible for people working within the field, which, as we know, usually leads to an increase in innovation and development.
Posted in 3D Printer
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