Dual Sacrificial Molding: Fabricating 3D Microchannels with Overhang and Helical Features
Wei Huang Goh ¹, Michinao Hashimoto ¹,²,*
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) has become an indispensable tool for 3D printing of molds used for sacrificial molding to fabricate microfluidic devices. The freedom of design of a mold is, however, restricted to the capabilities of the 3D printer and associated materials. Although FDM has been used to create a sacrificial mold made with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to produce 3D microchannels, microchannels with free-hanging geometries are still difficult to achieve. Herein, dual sacrificial molding was devised to fabricate microchannels with overhang or helical features in PDMS using two complementary materials. The method uses an FDM 3D printer equipped with two extruders and filaments made of high- impact polystyrene (HIPS) and PVA. HIPS was initially removed in limonene to reveal the PVA mold harboring the design of microchannels. The PVA mold was embedded in PDMS and subsequently removed in water to create microchannels with 3D geometries such as dual helices and multilayer pyramidal networks. The complementary pairing of the HIPS and PVA filaments during printing facilitated the support of suspended features of the PVA mold. The PVA mold was robust and retained the original design after the exposure to limonene. The resilience of the technique demonstrated here allows us to create microchannels with geometries not attainable with sacrificial molding with a mold printed with a single material.