Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technology provides an ultra-compact solution for environmental monitoring and point-of-care diagnostics, to name just a couple of key applications. Measurement systems can be portable, easy-to-use, and require only small quantities of sample and reagents, but despite these strong selling points LOC devices have yet to realize their full potential in terms of market success.
“One of the main reasons LOCs don’t make it to market is that the methods used to fabricate them are often not transferable to industrial-scale production,” commented Christoph Baum, group manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) in Aachen, Germany.
To tackle the problem, IPT has teamed up with 11 European partners to streamline LOC production. Their plan is to develop a common manufacturing platform that combines roll-to-roll and inkjet printing, and integrates the key components of a LOC – microfluidic channels for liquid transport, optical components for analysis, and electrical circuits for channel heating and readout – on a layer-by-layer basis.