The new 3D printing technology is a game changer for health professionals

New 3D Printing: A game changer for drug testing equipment - USC Viterbi

An example of a microfluidic chip developed by the research team. Eaten: Yang Xu

Microscale microfluidic devices are made with small pathways engraved on a chip, allowing biomedical researchers to test the properties of fluids, particles and cells on a microscale. They are important in the development of medicine, diagnostic testing and health research in areas such as cancer, diabetes and now COVID-19. However, the production of these tools is very labor intensive, with minute streams and springs that need to be hand -carved or melted into a lightweight resin paste for testing. Although 3D printing has provided many advantages for making biomedical materials, its technologies have not made it easy to produce plates with the minute specifications required for microfluidic materials. Until now.

Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have developed a sophisticated 3D printing technology that allows microfluidic streams on chips to be generated at a precise microscale that has never been implemented before. The research, led by Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Ph.D. Yang Xu and Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering Yong Chen, in collaboration with Professor of Chemical Engineering and Material Science Noah Malmstadt and Professor Huachao Mao at Purdue University, printed on. Nature Communications.

The research team used a technique of 3D printing technology called vat photopolymerization, which uses light to control the conversion of liquid resins to their final solid state.

After light design, we can decide where to build the pieces (of the chip), and in order to use lightness, the resolution can be high in a board. in building microscale rivers, ”Chen said.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to hit an object at a stream level at the 10 micron level; and we’ve been able to control it properly, whether it’s a combination error or even a single drop. “This is something that has never been seen before, so this is a breakthrough in 3D printing of small streams,” he said.






Vat photopolymerization is applied to a container filled with aqueous photopolymer resin, in which a material that is printed on the board is built up. Ultraviolet light is applied on the material, curing and hardening the resin at each layer level. When this is done, the construction site moves the printed material up and down so that more layers can be built on top.

But when it comes to microfluidic materials, vat photopolymerization has some disadvantages in producing the small wells and streams required on the chip. The UV light source is often immersed in the resin water residue, curing and sealing the materials in the walls of the manufacturer’s streams, to seal the finished product.

“When you’re lighting a lamp, it’s better, you want to save one layer of the river wall and put the water resin in the river untouched; 10-micron beams,” he said. Chen.

He said the current commercial processes only allow for the production of high-frequency streams at the 100-micron level without poor power consumption, due to the penetration of light into a surface area. deep life, unless you use an opaque resin that doesn’t allow a lot of light ingress.

“But with a microfluidic style, you want to look at something under a microscope, and if it’s opaque, you can’t see what’s inside, so we have to use transparent resin,” he said. and Chen.

In order to accurately create stripes in pure resin at a microscale level suitable for microfluidic materials, the company has developed a special auxiliary threshold that moves between the light source and the printed material. , which prevents light from trapping water in the walls of a stream. so the roof can be attached separately to the top of the device. The residual resin that is left in the stream is in the liquid form and can then be washed out after the printing process to make up the gap.

Microfluidic materials have been widely used in medical research, drug development and diagnostics.

“There are a lot of applications for microfluidic systems. You can flow blood through a stream, combine it with other chemicals so you can, for example, see if it’s COVID or high of blood sugar, ”Chen said.

He said the new 3D printing platform, with its microscale features, has been approved for other applications, such as segregation. A particle sorter is a type of microfluidic chip that uses different chambers that can separate different particles. This can provide significant benefits to knowledge and research.

“Tumor cells are much larger than normal cells, they are around 20 microns. Tumor cells can grow up to over 100 microns,” Chen said. “Currently, we use biopsies to look at cancer cells; cutting the body or tissue from a patient reveals a combination of healthy cells and tumor cells. separate the cells into different sizes so we don’t allow those healthy cells to interfere with our perception.

Chen said the research company is currently in the process of filing a patent for a new 3D printing technique, and is seeking a partnership to sell the technology for medical experiments.


3D micromesh-based hybrid printing for microtissue engineering


More information:
Yang Xu et al, In-situ transfer vat photopolymerization for the production of lightweight microfluidic materials, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-28579-z

Presented by the University of Southern California

Directions: New 3D printing technology as a game changer for medical researchers (2022, April 12) Retrieved 12 April 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-3d-technique-game-changer -medical.html

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