Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Mass Producing Pocket Labs

Published: Monday, October 07, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, October 07, 2013
Bookmark and Share
There is certainly no shortage of lab-on-a-chip devices, but in most cases manufacturers have not yet found a cost-effective way to mass produce them.

Scientists are now developing a platform for series production of these pocket laboratories. 

Ask anyone to imagine what a chemical analysis laboratory looks like, and most will picture the following scene: a large room filled with electrical equipment, extractor hoods and chemical substances, in which white-robed researchers are busy unlocking the secrets behind all sorts of scientific processes. But there are also laboratories of a very different kind, for instance labs-on-a-chip (LOCs). These “pocket labs” are able to automatically perform a complete analysis of even the tiniest liquid samples, integrating all the required functions onto a chip that’s just a few centimeters long. Experts all over the world have developed many powerful LOC devices in recent years, but very few pocket labs have made it onto the market.

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.

Platform for series 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.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Detecting Nano Amounts In Environmental Samples
The NanoUmwelt project is developing a technique that can detect nanomaterials in a variety of environmental samples.
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Growing Stem Cells Faster on Seaweed
Fraunhofer scientists use the gel-like mass from Chilean seaweed as the substrate for stem cells.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Mini Synthetic Organism Instead Of Test Animals
Using a compact multi-organ chip, and those of three separate microcircuits, researchers can study the regeneration of certain kidney cells.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
A Medical Lab For The Home
Fraunhofer FIT demonstrates a mobile wireless system that monitors the health of elderly people in their own homes, using miniature sensors.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Australia Health Care Company Prima Biomed Ltd Enters Agreement with Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology
The agreement represents a crucial step in the development and production of CVac™ in Europe. Establishment of a subsidiary in Leipzig is envisioned.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Scientific News
Open Source Seed Initiative – A Welcome Boost to Global Crop Breeding
A team of plant breeders, farmers, non-profit agencies, seed advocates, and policymakers have created the Open Source Seed Initiative.
ASMS 2016: Targeting Mass Spectrometry Tools for the Masses
The expanding application range of MS in life sciences, food, energy, and health sciences research was highlighted at this year's ASMS meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
Anthrax Proteins Might Help Treat Cancerous Tumors
Studies in mice reveal novel treatment regimen.
New Cancer Drug Target Found in Dual-Function Protein
Findings from a study from TSRI have shown that targeting a protein called GlyRS might help to halt cancer growth.
Key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is in Your Gut, Not Head
Researchers report they have identified biological markers of the disease in gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood.
HIV Structure Stabilized
Findings represent ‘big accomplishment’ in biomedical engineering and design.
Four Newly-Identified Genes Could Improve Rice
A Japanese research team have applied a method used in human genetic analysis to rice and rapidly discovered four new genes that are potentially significant for agriculture. These findings could influence crop breeding and help combat food shortages caused by a growing population.
New Cancer Drug Target in Dual-Function Protein
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a protein that launches cancer growth and appears to contribute to higher mortality in breast cancer patients.
Antibodies To Dengue May Alter Course Of Zika Virus Infection
Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center, in collaboration with investigators from Thailand, have found that people infected with dengue virus develop antibodies that cross-react with Zika virus.
Some Women With PCOS May Have Adrenal Disorder
Researchers at NIH have found that a subgroup of women with PCOS, a leading cause of infertility, may produce excess adrenal hormones.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!