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Manufacturing microstructured tool inserts for the production of polymeric microfluidic devices

2015-08-10, Zhang, Nan, Srivastava, Amit P., Kirwan, Brendan, Byrne, Richard, Fang, Fengzhou, Browne, David J., Gilchrist, M. D.

Tooling is critical in defining multi-scale patterns for mass production of polymeric microfluidic devices using the microinjection molding process. In the present work, fabrication of various microstructured tool inserts using stainless steel, nickel and bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) is discussed based on die-sinking EDM (electrical discharge machining), electroforming, focused ion beam milling and thermoplastic forming processes. Tool performance is evaluated in terms of surface roughness, hardness and tool life. Compared to stainless steel, nickel and BMGs are capable of integrating length scales from 100 to 10−8 m and are good candidates for producing polymeric microfluidics. Selection of tool materials and manufacturing technologies should consider the end-user requirements of actual applications.