SUTD researchers have developed a 3D printed DIY by


image: To make microfluidic pumps more accessible to the scientific community, SUTD researchers have developed a highly customizable, 3D printed peristaltic pump kit, where users around the world can download design files, 3D print, and assemble their do-it- peristaltic pump yourself.
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Credit: SUTD

The development of microfluidic systems for lab-on-a-chip (LoC) and organ-on-a-chip (OoC) applications requires precise control of fluid flow. Typically, on-chip flow rates are controlled by integrating a microfluidic chip with external pumps that deliver a microscopic-scale (typically on the order of ml / min) fluid flow rate through the microchannels. For this purpose, commercially available flow devices such as extrusion syringe pumps, peristaltic pumps and pneumatic pumps have been widely used.

Unfortunately, existing pumps suitable for microfluidic applications are generally bulky and expensive. For example, pressure-controlled flow systems cost up to US $ 10,000, while syringe pumps and peristaltic pumps cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Small footprint pumps are preferred for LoC and OoC applications. Although miniature pumps are commercially available, they require proprietary and expensive control systems (over $ 1,000). More importantly, these commercially available pumps do not lend themselves to customization. Since each experience has unique requirements such as throughput, working environment and available space, rapid instrument customization would benefit users.

To make microfluidic pumps more accessible to the scientific community, researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Soft Fluidic Laboratory has developed a ‘highly customizable, 3D printed peristaltic pump kit’, where users around the world can download the design files, 3D print and assemble their do-it-yourself (DIY) peristaltic pump (see image ).

“3D printers have become more and more affordable, and it’s a product that can be found in most science labs today. With the advancement of 3D printing technologies, scientists no longer have to depend on manufacturers to make components; they can design and print them themselves at an affordable cost. We are slowly watching the democratization of manufacturing through 3D printing technology, ”said Associate Professor Michinao Hashimoto, Principal Investigator of the SUTD project.

The peristaltic pump is powered and controlled by Arduino, an open source electronics platform. “With the introduction of Arduino, precise motor control becomes accessible to non-experts. These open source electronic platforms allow scientists with little electronics and programming experience to build complex scientific instruments, ”explained lead author Terry Ching, a joint graduate student from SUTD and National University of Canada. Singapore (NUS).

By combining 3D printed parts with open source electronic prototyping platforms, the team built a peristaltic pump comparable to commercially available options at a fraction of the cost, around US $ 50 per pump. The assembled pumps offered a wide range of flow rates for microfluidics users (0.02 – 727.3 L / min). The pump also has a small footprint of approximately 20 × 50 × 28mm, which can be placed in a cell incubator. Notably, the pump is designed as a kit, allowing end users to customize the configuration to their preferences.

“We believe that a kit has the intrinsic ability to evoke the culture of hacking and DIY. Hopefully this in turn can inspire the scientific community to develop more open source science infrastructure, ”added Professor Hashimoto.

The Computer Aided Design (CAD) files with detailed instructions for making the pump can be found in their latest publication, “Highly Customizable 3D Printed Peristaltic Pump Kit” in MaterialX. This research was conducted in collaboration with the research groups of Professor Yi-Chin Toh (Queensland University of Technology), Associate Professor Javier Fernandez (SUTD) and Professor Chwee Teck Lim (National University of Singapore).

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