One of the main drivers in healthcare technology is the development of new devices and technologies that enable earlier, faster and more frequent diagnostic testing and personalized medicine. Point-of-Care (PoC) diagnostic devices allow medical tests to be performed in the vicinity of the patient instead of in a clinical laboratory. Compared to current solutions, microfluidic devices promise to enable the development of PoC devices for more complex diagnostic tests.

For PoC applications, large numbers of microfluidic cartridges have to be produced at low cost. This can be achieved by injection molding of thermoplastics. However, several technical challenges still exist when it comes to combining the manufacturing of the cartridge with other crucial processes such as on-chip storage of reagents, application of coatings and bonding of the device.

Project outline

ScaleTIME aims to improve the scalability of the manufacturing process for injection molded microfluidic cartridges with advanced functionalities by increasing the mutual compatibility of the different steps. The project brings together four Dutch SMEs working on the development of different technologies, components and applications for PoC diagnostic devices. Together, the partners span the full range from design of components to clinical application.

Technology partners Axxicon, Micronit and Surfix contribute to the project by sharing their technologies for designing, manufacturing and coating microfluidic cartridges. Enzyre is the application partner and is developing PoC tests in the field of blood clotting, based on chemiluminescent enzymatic assays.

Surfix Contribution

Common polymers used for fabricating microfluidic devices, such as COC, are hydrophobic, which hampers capillary flow of biological (aqueous) liquids through the channels. Moreover, proteins tend to adsorb to the hydrophobic surface, leading to issues such as unwanted surface-induced (intrinsic) activation of blood clotting.

In ScaleTIME, Surfix’s nanocoatings will be used for surface modification of test structures and demonstrator devices to bring the right surface properties (hydrophobic, hydrophilic, antifouling) to the right location. Patterned nanocoatings can be used to gain local control of the wettability and/or antifouling properties, which enables advanced functionalities and facilitates integration of the coating process with bonding and other manufacturing steps.

For more information on the possibilities of using patterned nanocoatings in microfluidic devices, have a look at our R&D project Coat PoCKET.