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Three-dimensional-printing for microfluidics or the other way around?

VIEWS - 36 (Abstract) 16 (PDF)
Yi Zhang


As microfluidic devices are designed to tackle more intricate tasks, the architecture of microfluidic devices
becomes more complex, and more sophisticated fabrication techniques are in demand. Therefore, it is sensible to fabricate
microfluidic devices by three-dimensional (3D)-printing, which is well-recognized for its unique ability to monolithically
fabricate complex structures using a near-net-shape additive manufacturing process. Many 3D-printed microfluidic platforms
have been demonstrated but can 3D-printed microfluidics meet the demanding requirements in today’s context, and has
microfluidics truly benefited from 3D-printing? In contrast to 3D-printed microfluidics, some go the other way around and
exploit microfluidics for 3D-printing. Many innovative printing strategies have been made possible with microfluidicsenabled
3D-printing, although the limitations are also largely evident. In this perspective article, we take a look at the current
development in 3D-printed microfluidics and microfluidics-enabled 3D printing with a strong focus on the limitations of the
two technologies. More importantly, we attempt to identify the innovations required to overcome these limitations and to
develop new high-value applications that would make a scientific and social impact in the future.


3D-printing; Bioprinting; Microfluidics

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