We seek to create a fundamental basis for the design and optimal operation of the processes used to manufacture microfluidic devices with micron and sub-micron sized capillaries. Further, we strive to identify the ultimate process limits in terms of cost, quality, rate and flexibility.
The applications driving these research objectives are microfluidic devices with micron and sub-micron sized capillaries. This includes, amongst others, micro-reactors for biomedical diagnosis, and fluidic photonic devices.
These applications are characterized by micron scale product dimensions, high value added, extreme quality requirements, mass customization, time sensitive distribution and potentially new business structures.
The Center's research focuses on 1) the materials and mechanics aspects of several polymer-based manufacturing processes, 2) precision tooling and equipment design and analysis predicated on sophisticated machine- and process-control principles, 3) metrology (measurement) techniques to analyze parts and tooling in order to close the quality manufacturing loop for these products, 4) systems analysis, to understand the factory and the supply-chain. In this way, we establish an integrated core of understanding of the full commercial realization of polymer-based manufacturing.
The specific manufacturing processes we currently consider are: 1) soft-lithography or micro-casting, 2) micro-imprint-lithography or micro-forging, and 3) micro-injection-molding.
We develop engineering science-based simulation tools, as well as prototype equipment for these polymer-based manufacturing processes.
Initial simulation using the PMMA model and ABAQUS/Explicit has been able to replicate experimental results well.
This promising technique is being investigated with respect to tool toughness, shape fidelity and dimensional uniformity.
We investigate the importance of both small scale errors (at the individual part feature level) and large scale device distortions.