Fabrication of 3D Microfluidic Channels and In‐Channel Features Using 3D Printed, Water‐Soluble Sacrificial Mold
Wei Huang Goh, Michinao Hashimoto
Recent advent of additive manufacturing potentiates the fabrication of microchannels, albeit with limitations in resolution of printed structures, freedom of geometry, and choice of printable materials. Herein, a method is developed by sacrificial molding to fabricate microchannels in various polymer matrices and geometries. This method allows for rapid fabrication of 3D microchannels and channels harboring intricate in‐channel features. The method uses commercially available fused deposition modeling 3D printer and filament made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). Mechanically stable molds are fabricated for 3D microchannels that can be completely removed in water. Importantly, the PVA mold is stable and resilient in hydrogels despite being hygroscopic. Perfusion channels are fabricated in biocompatible substrates such as gelatin and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate. Fabrication of the network of 3D multilayer microchannels is demonstrated by preassembling sacrificial molds from modular pieces of molds. Intricate staggered‐herringbones grooves (SHGs) are also fabricated within microchannels to produce micromixers. The versatility and resilience of the method developed here is advantageous for biological and chemical applications that require 3D configurations of microchannels in various matrices, which would not be compatible with fabrication by direct 3D printing and softlithography.