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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - M3DLoC (Additive Manufacturing of 3D Microfluidic MEMS for Lab-on-a-Chip applications)


There is a clear and urgent need for the development, provision and widespread use of affordable, portable, reliable and rapid Point-of-Care (PoC) diagnostic devices, especially for early diagnosis of diseases, so as to enable time-sensitive, life-saving therapeutic...


There is a clear and urgent need for the development, provision and widespread use of affordable, portable, reliable and rapid Point-of-Care (PoC) diagnostic devices, especially for early diagnosis of diseases, so as to enable time-sensitive, life-saving therapeutic interventions. The intrinsic advantages of miniaturization and integration from microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip (LoC) devices has seldom been translated into commercial products due to challenges in materials, manufacturing, standardization, upscaling and cost issues. Manufacturing of microfluidic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) has been enabled with various methods and techniques, however current production technologies present significant barriers in terms of multi-material integration and fabrication of complicated 3D microstructures, in combination with cost-efficiency and scalability. Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes that are based on layer-by-layer manufacturing have been identified as an effective method to attain true 3D microproducts, allowing for high design flexibility and selective deposition of different types of materials in a single process/device.
The ability of microfluidic Lab-on-a-Chip technology has been considered highly promising for both in vitro and clinical PoC diagnosis. Microfluidic devices for integrated biochemical processing and analysis is still a relatively new field, and have found widespread use in a variety of applications such as diagnostics, therapeutics, and tissue engineering. This will further contribute to driving advanced manufacturing industry in EU forward. These advancements can be utilized in other key industrial sectors, where there is a high demand for new sets of sustainable performant materials and microfabrication processes, while maintaining cost efficacy and sustainability.
M3DLOC aims at the employment of multi-material 3D printing technologies for the large-scale fabrication of microfluidic MEMS for lab-on-a-chip and sensing applications. The concept is based on the combination of multimaterial direct-ink-writing method and an extrusion-based 3D printing pilot line, in order to fabricate microstructured detection devices with the ability to perform all steps of chemical analysis in an automated fashion.
The functionality of these devices will be evaluated based on their ability to streamline all steps needed to obtain mobility and binding-based identity information in one continuous biochemical detection system. Optimum inline control systems will be incorporated in various stages of the fabrication process, to achieve precise control and repeatability. Microfluidic MEMS are increasingly recognized as a unique technology field for the development of biomedical devices (BioMEMS), due to their functional performance on the microscale, at the dimensions of which most physiological processes are operative. Applications near micro- and nanoscale are promising in the field of intelligent biosensors, where it enables the monolithic integration of sensing devices with intelligent functions like molecular detection, signal analysis, electrical stimulation, data transmission, etc., in a single microchip.

Work performed

The various modules of the Pilot line for production of BioMEMS devices, are currently under development and tested for manufacturing capabilities. The initial investigation and planning for each individual processing module and their integration has been finalized. Architecture of the pilot line system and device-manufacturing sequence were studied and designed to show that the conceptual production line is sufficient for BioMEMS microfluidic device fabrication, based on microfluidic end-users’ requirements and targeted quality characteristics. These specifications depicted functions of modules in the whole production line, process-related requirements, targeted performances, and supplementary requirements which ensure the normal functionality of modules.
A two-phase material development process has been pursued, in order to enhance material processability and meet application-specific requirements for the selected test cases. Biodegradable thermoplastic materials have been tailored by melt-mixing and (nano)additive incorporation, in order to form the main BioMEMS matrix that will host and interconnect all functional elements. A comparative assessment of different material systems has been conducted, encompassing optimization loops from processability testing and compatibilization with functional elements produced by ink-jet deposition. For ink-jet material development, strategies to improve dispersion stability, rheological characteristics and coating efficiency were established. Conductive inks with synergistic mixtures of carbonaceous nanoparticles and inks containing selective biomarkers have been printed and tested. Microfluidic prototypes related to the 3 test cases have been manufactured and evaluated, following the foreseen process sequence in M3DLoC pilot line and materials developed.
The Pilot line for the production of BioMEMS devices is already part of the European Network for Pilot Production, and will provide open access to stakeholders and interested parties for the production of on-demand diagnostic devices. The pilot line will be located in Lavrion, Attica, Greece. Key Exploitable Results (KER) obtained until now have been collected and included in the business plan for M3DLoC pilot line and services.

Final results

M3DLoC project will contribute to maintain the EU at the top of competitiveness in a high-technology environment, in developing advanced microfluidic devices by taking advantage of promising Multi-material Additive Manufacturing technologies, nanotechnology and functionalization techniques, automation and in-line monitoring techniques, which will find significant applications in various sectors including biomedical analysis, environmental applications, multifunctional sensors, etc. The applications identified by M3DLoC are aligned with the demands from the respective industrial sectors and show promising market perspectives. The project will result in the establishment of a multifunctional pilot line - first of its kind to be manufactured in Europe. M3DLoC’s innovation potential in equipment development will be reflected by the upgrading with new functionalities and higher precision of standard AM and inkjet equipment/facilities, in order to develop a fully integrated pilot line, supporting multiple/hybrid micro-manufacturing processes with multi-length scale fabrication capacity and high-quality surface finish. The quality of the produced devices, will translate pilot-scale process development to commercially competitive industrial production. To maximize the likelihood of success, the project aims to provide customer-friendly access to the developed technology, by ensuring open access to the industrial line, along with proper design and safety standards and precaution requirements. The open access strategies that will be developed during the project based on best practices of open access pilot lines involved in H2020 projects and in line with the EPPN open access guidance.

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