Dolomite, a world leader in microfluidics innovation, has just released its innovative Fluidic-Factory available from John Morris Scientific.
As the first commercially available 3D printer for fluidically-sealed devices, the Fluidic factory offers fast and dependable printing from as little as $1.33 per device. Using robust and translucent cyclic olefin copolymer (COC), this makes it simple and affordable to 3D print devices for practically any application.
The Fluidic Factory is designed for ultimate ease of use, enabling rapid prototyping of fluidically-sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors and medical devices. Its intelligent software and innovative hardware ensure reliable sealing of fluidic paths, allowing the creation of precise channel geometries and various features not possible using etching, embossing, moulding or machining techniques.
Users can choose a design from the selection in the Fluidic Factory’s Design Library, or create and print their own unique devices using virtually any CAD software. With this complete design flexibility, the Fluidic Factory is ideal for a wide range of applications, including organ-on-a-chip, point-of-care diagnostics, drug development, education, chemical synthesis, and analytical and biomedical assays.
The Fluidic-Factory features a replaceable head and bed, and upgradeable software to enable future functionality e.g. on-line chip design file shop, printing alternative polymers, high definition printing, micromilling, fluid dispensing, bio-printing.
Fluidic Factory 3D printing method
Fluidic Factory uses FDM (fused deposition modelling) method to melt the polymer at high temperatures and eject through the nozzle to the print bed which then solidifies at temperatures below 75°C.
Reliable fluidic sealing
Fluidic Factory has been designed for reliable sealing even in pressures of up to 10-20 bar (dependent on design).
- Intelligent software:
The desktop PC software analyses the 3D geometry of the device and identifies the internal voids and surfaces. The print paths are then created from the inside of the device outwards and the print head deposits filaments in a continuous, leak-proof manner.
- Inductive heating:
Fluidic Factory’s clever design allows filaments to melt together when depositing on top of each other. A small volume of polymer is melted to a fluid state at very high temperatures and only held a few seconds before ejecting and depositing in a ‘squashed’ manner. This ensures excellent adherence, optimal polymer quality and leak-free channels.
- ‘Squashed’ bead method*:
Fluidic Factory uses a ‘squashed’ bead method when depositing beads as opposed to many traditional FDM printers which deposit beads in circular cross-sections. The system is optimised for fluidic sealing.
*FDM printers eject the molten polymer, which cools down and solidifies. What is ejected is called a bead. The size of the bead depends on the speed that the nozzle is moving, the nozzle diameter and the rate at which the polymer is ejected.
Unique properties of COC (cyclic olefin copolymer)
Fluidic-Factory is the world’s first COC printer and the first printer in the world able to fabricate fluidically sealed devices. COC has many benefits over other polymers:
Circular, triangular or rectangular channel geometries can be printed (dependent on the mode of printing). Other cross-sections are also possible.
Intuitive user interface and workflow
Fluidic Factory features a touch screen and USB drive to enable easy transfer of print files from a PC. Once the USB is inserted into the Fluidic Factory, the file becomes available to select and print. Once printing is started, the screen displays the time left to print, real-time status and filament use.
Print files and Fluidic Factory Software
Print files are open format files and may be downloaded from the Design Library. Designs can also be created by CAD software and then saved as a .stl file, which carries information about the surfaces of the model. The Fluidic Factory PC software accepts .stl files and outputs print files (.phff).
After importing a .stl file, the PC software creates a graphic illustration of the device. It then illustrates 2D slices, a slice at a time, reconstructed from the .stl information. The user is able to visually inspect the 2D slices to understand the print path of the print head. During this stage, the user is also able to adjust the model to decide the print orientation.
The user can scroll through the layers, and once satisfied, finalise the creation of the print file. This file is then copied to a USB flash drive and connected to the PC.
To find out more, please see our brochure:
Dolomite Fluidic Factory 3D Printer
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