Date of Award

Winter 12-20-2019

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Engineering

Advisor

Caitlin Howell

Second Committee Member

Amy Blakeley

Third Committee Member

James Beaupre

Abstract

Microfluidics constitutes a widely applicable field of enabling technologies with great potential to revolutionize healthcare and biotechnology. The ability to miniaturize and parallelize processes with microfluidics is seen as a solution for many problems with diagnostics technologies and accessibility. Unfortunately, fabricating microfluidics often require extremely expensive, time consuming, and specialized high-precision methods, making both prototyping and commercial-scale mass manufacturing difficult to accomplish. In this work, we evaluate the feasibility of using a unique roll-to-roll (R2R) micropatterning manufacturing process coupled with Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) to rapidly prototype and produce microfluidic devices at high-volume on film or paper backings for applications in biotechnology. The first part of this process involved using Innovation Engineering approaches to navigate the customer discovery process to define the market areas in microfluidics that were of most value. Next, we identified key feasibility metrics for assessing products made with this process by looking at both manufacturability and functionality. Feature dimensions of products fabricated in the R2R process were evaluated at each step of production to determine manufacturability. Functionality was then assessed using microfluidic mixing patterns to compare the mixing efficiency of our film product to those manufactured with a current industry standard method. Ultimately, we found that fabrication of microfluidic patterns was feasible in the R2R production method, and that the devices created had functionality comparable to traditional microfluidic devices. This work will serve as a platform for further investigations into the high-volume manufacturing and prototyping of microfluidic patterns for applications in diagnostics and other areas of biotechnology.

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