Rapid and inexpensive fabrication of polymeric microfluidic devices via toner transfer masking

Christopher J. Easley, Richard K.P. Benninger, Jesse H. Shaver, W. Steven Head, David W. Piston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


An alternative fabrication method is presented for production of masters for single- or multi-layer polymeric microfluidic devices in a standard laboratory environment, precluding the need for a cleanroom. This toner transfer masking (TTM) method utilizes an office laser printer to generate a toner pattern which is thermally transferred to a metal master to serve as a mask for etching. With master fabrication times as little as one hour (depending on channel depth) using commercially-available equipment and supplies, this approach should make microfluidic technology more widely accessible to the non-expert - even the non-scientist. The cost of fabrication consumables was estimated to be < $1 per master, over an order of magnitude decrease in consumable costs compared to standard photolithography. In addition, the use of chemical etching allows accurate control over the height of raised features (i.e., channel depths), allowing the flexibility to fabricate multiple depths on a single master with little added time. Resultant devices are shown capable of pneumatic valving, three-dimensional channel formation (using layer-connecting vias), droplet fluidics, and cell imaging and staining. The multiple-depth capabilities of the method are proven useful for cellular analysis by fabrication of handheld, disposable devices used for trapping and imaging of live murine pancreatic islets. The precise fluidic control provided by the microfluidic platform allows subsequent fixing and staining of these cells without significant movement, thus spatial correlation of imaging and staining is attainable - even with rare alpha cells that constitute only ∼10% of the islet cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1127
Number of pages9
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


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