Evaluating the Way2Production SolFlex350 Digital Light Projection 3D printer as a fabrication technology for microfluidics
Development of microfluidic devices for automated cell culture and integrated experiments offers a valuable evolution of biological laboratory practice. The strengths of 3D printing – versatile fabrication, low-cost and ease of use – provide a solution to difficulties in the fabrication of complex single and multi-layer devices. This work assesses the ability of a desktop W2P SolFlex350 resin printer to produce sub-200µm features necessary to replicate device designs currently created using traditional photolithography and multi-layer soft lithography. It is shown that features required for sub-200µm channel production are not viable using this 3D printer, but there is scope for further development of micro and milli-fluidics using desktop 3D printing. 3D printing to remove the need for layer-bonding in complex fluidic devices would enable increased complexity of device design. The possibility of using this to incorporate Raman spectroscopy as a non-invasive, label-free cell sorting mechanism in a continuous microfluidic cell culture device (chemostat) is explored both by assessing the capabilities of the 3D printer, and by evaluating the signal strength of fluorine-carbon bonds as a potential natural marker for Raman-based directed evolution. Organofluorine compounds were shown to produce detectable signals in aqueous solution but further research is necessary to enable detection at rates suitable for this type of device.