Mass Producing Pocket Labs

  Enquire / contact me

ML² project is funded by the EU

Mass Producing Pocket Labs
Mass Producing Pocket Labs

There is certainly no shortage of lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices, but in most cases manufacturers have not yet found a cost-effective way to mass produce them. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen want to find out why so many LOCs are not a commercial success. They are working with colleagues from polyscale GmbH & Co. KG, an IPT spin-off, and ten other industrial partners from Germany, Finland, Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Italy on ways to make LOCs marketable. Their ML² project is funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which is providing a total of 7.69 million euros in funding through fall 2016. "One of the main reasons LOCs don't make it to market is that the technologies used to fabricate them are often not transferrable to industrial-scale production," says Christoph Baum, group manager at the IPT. What's more, it is far from easy to integrate electrical functions into pocket labs, and of the approaches taken to date, none has yet proved suitable for mass production.

The ML² project aims to completely revise the way pocket labs are made so they are more suited to series production. "Our objective is to create a design and production platform that will enable us to manufacture all the components we need," says Baum. This includes producing the tiny channel structures within which liquids flow and react with each other, and coating the surfaces so that bioactive substances can bond with them. Then there are optical components, and electrical circuits for heating the channels, for example. The experts apply each of these components to individual films that are then assembled to form the complete "laboratory". The films are connected to one another via vertical channels machined through the individual layers using a laser.

The first step the researchers have taken is to adapt and modify the manufacturing process for each layer to suit mass-production requirements. When it comes to creating the channel structures, the team has moved away from the usual injection molding or wet chemical processing techniques in favor of roll-to-roll processing. This involves transferring the negative imprint of the channels onto a roller to create an embossing cylinder that then imprints a pattern of depressions on a continuous roll of film. The electrical circuits are printed onto film with an inkjet printer using special ink that contains copper or silver nanoparticles.

Each manufacturing stage is fine-tuned by the researchers in the process of producing a number of demonstrator LOCs - for instance a pregnancy test with a digital display. These tests are currently produced in low-wage countries, but with increased automation set to slash manufacturing costs by up to 50 percent in future, production would once again be commercially viable in a high-wage country such as Germany. The team aims to have all the demonstrators built and the individual manufacturing processes optimized by 2014. Then it will be a case of fitting the various steps in the manufacturing process together, making sure they match up, and implementing the entire sequence on an industrial scale.

Posted on October 2, 2013 - (216 views)
by
Related articles
Custom Engineered Components
Ergonomic Safety Handles
High-Speed Camera with 4 Channels CXP-12
Bolts Configurator with Groove
3D Scanning and Inspection Solutions
Bi-Metal Temperature Gauges
Hoist Trolleys
Reels for Hydraulic Applications
Growth Record for Schaffner in Fiscal Year 2017/2018
Industrial Wireless LAN Access Points
Sensing Innovation in Process and Control
Ultrasonic Flowmeter TRX
Hannay Reels Delivers Every Time
Multi-protocol Network Diagnostics
Take your Manufacturing to the Edge. Connect Everything
Power in new Dimensions - BXT Motor Family
Mechanical Position Sensor MP600 Series
Heaters of H series
3 Phase Book Style EMC Filter
Leading Distributor in Automation & Robotics Technology
High-Speed Camera with 4 Channels CXP-12
Bi-Metal Temperature Gauges
Industrial Wireless LAN Access Points
FMAC NEO: 3-Phase Mains Filter
Cogent DataHub IoT Gateway
Chip Fuse for Highest Demands
SUT-H: for Hgh Inrush Currents
FPBB RAIL - Compact DIN-Rail Filter
DG11: IEC Appliance Plug with Circuit Breaker
Labfacility L60+ Thermocouple & Fine Wire Welder
Ergonomic Safety Handles
Bi-Metal Temperature Gauges
Hoist Trolleys
Interactive Projection Module
JVL Shows the Highlight of SPS IPC Drives 2018
Schildknecht Presents the Universal ioT Gateway at SPS IPC Drives 2018
Danfoss Drives Presented its Latest Novelties at SPS IPC Drives 2018
Rockwell Presents the iTrack System at SPS IPC Drives 2018
Microscope Optics by Optris Presented at SPS IPC Drives
Aucotec Presents the DCS Portal at SPS IPC Drives 2018