Novel prototyping method for microfluidic devices based on thermoplastic polyurethane microcapillary film

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Thermoplastic polyurethane microcapillary film (TPU-MCF), as a novel extruded product, inherently contains an array of circular micron-sized capillaries embedded inside the polymer matrix. With the aid of simple laser cutting and conventional sealing technologies, a rapid prototyping method for microfluidic devices is proposed based on the ready-made microstructure of MCFs. Two functionalized microfluidic devices: serpentine micromixer and multi-droplet generator, are rapidly fabricated to demonstrate the advantages and potential of employing this new method. The whole proof-of-concept fabrication process can be completed in 8–10 min in a simple way; each procedure is repeatable with stable performance control of microfluidic devices; and the material cost can be as low as $0.01 for each device. The TPU-MCF and this novel method are expected to provide a new perspective and alternative in microfluidic community with particular requirements.

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Financial support was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51373153) and the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2015CB057301); we also express our attitude to Tao Xie for providing laser cutter and Tiefeng Li for providing VHB tapes.

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Correspondence to Zhongbin Xu or Xiaodong Ruan.

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Xu, Z., Jiang, F., Xu, Z. et al. Novel prototyping method for microfluidic devices based on thermoplastic polyurethane microcapillary film. Microfluid Nanofluid 20, 126 (2016).

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  • Microcapillary film
  • Prototyping method
  • Microfluidic devices
  • Micromixer
  • Droplet generator