Fabrication of Through-Holes for the Interconnection of Polymer Microfluidic Devices
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In the past decade, there has been an increasing interest in the implementation of microfluidic devices such as, Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC). The ability to interconnect microfluidic devices would scale the functionality of modular systems, thus fulfilling the gap between research and the consumer market. Therefore, replication technology is a critical feature in turning expensive microstructures into cost effective polymer devices. Hot embossing has been proposed in the fabrication of through-holes. This would allow a fluidic sample to be transferred between multiple interconnected Point-of-Care diagnostics (POCD) systems. The hot embossing process was modified to increase the durability of a mold insert by using a Polysulfone (PSU) buffer layer to reduce the potential wear. This buffer acted as a residual layer receptor by removing it from the polymer during molding. Through-hole fabrication could be analyzed via Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to determine the appropriate process parameters to achieve high replication quality. FEA was used to investigate the process parameters and their effects on molded patterns. Experimental testing was used concurrently with simulation results to determine the accuracy of the numerical model. The results of experiments as well as the numerical model showed the proper combination of parameters, making it viable for a production process. Therefore, understanding the effect of process parameters could be applied in the development of through-hole manufacturing tools. Compared to previous fabrication techniques, this process of hot embossing does not require alignment tools and introduces the capability of simultaneous through-hole fabrication.