Current technologies for manufacturing of microfluidic devices include soft-lithography, wet and dry etching, thermoforming, micro-machining and three-dimensional (3D) printing. Among them, soft-lithography has been the mostly preferred one in medical and pharmaceutical fields due to its ability to generate polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) devices with resin biocompatibility, throughput and transparency for imaging. It is a multi-step process requiring the preparation of a silicon wafer pattern, which is fabricated using photolithography according to a defined mask. Photolithography is a costly, complicated and time-consuming process requiring a clean-room environment, and the technology is not readily accessible in most of the developing countries. In addition, generated patterns on photolithography-made silicon wafers do not allow building 3D intricate shapes and silicon direct bonding is thus utilized for closed fluid channels and complex 3D structures. 3D Printing of PDMS has recently gained significant interest due to its ability to define complex 3D shapes directly from user-defined designs. In this work, we investigated Carbopol as a sacrificial gel in order to create microfluidic channels in PDMS devices. Our study demonstrated that Carbopol ink possessed a shear-thinning behavior and enabled the extrusion-based printing of channel templates, which were overlaid with PDMS to create microfluidic devices upon curing of PDMS and removal of the sacrificial Carbopol ink. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the fabricated devices, channels were lined up with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and human bone marrow endothelial cells (BMECs) in separate devices, where both HUVECs and BMECs demonstrated the formation of endothelium with highly aligned cells in the direction of fluid flow. Overall, we here present a highly affordable and practical approach in fabrication of PDMS devices with closed fluid channels, which have great potential in a myriad of applications from cancer treatments to infectious disease diagnostics to artificial organs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering