Lowering the cost for surface patterning plastics

September 15, 2016, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Cover of Advanced Materials Interfaces. Back cover

Researchers at the Department of Micro- and Nanosystems at KTH have developed a new way to simultaneously shape and surface treat plastic components. The new method can reduce the manufacturing cost of medical devices, such as diagnostic tools for various diseases. 

When in various , such as "labs-on-a-chip", are manufactured today, they are first shaped by injection molding, and thereafter surface treated to attain desirable surface properties. The surface properties may, for example, be affinity for water or water repellence, says Wouter van der Wijngaart, professor of micro and nanosystems at KTH, who developed the technique together with KTH researchers Gaspard Pardon and Tommy Haraldsson.

Patterning surface properties of a component can be compared to treating a portion of a wooden surface with wax. Then the treated portion becomes water repellent. 

The new plastic manufacturing process defines simultaneously both the structure and the surface properties of the plastic component in a single injection molding step. 

"When we mold plastic using the new method, we simultaneously define the different it should have. Instead of needing to use several process steps, we now require only one. We needed to develop both a new plastic, and a new method to simultaneously structure and surface modifying it."

The research team members explain that the technology results from the continued development of the super OSTEMER, which is at the base of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology spin-off company Mercene Labs activities.

"The "lab-on-a-chip" components that we can fabricate with our new injection molding technique are meant to handle small amounts of liquid, in medical applications. Until now, such chips have been expensive, and this has been an obstacle for the more widespread use of such technology in health care. But if you can lower the production cost with half, hopefully the device price goes down as well, which facilitates diagnostic tools based on plastics and injection molding methods."

The team adds that their research is at a fairly high technical level and that it has not been clear how to proceed in order to simplify the process.

Explore further: Breakthrough for lab-on-a-chip material

More information: Gaspard Pardon et al. Surface Energy Mimicking: Simultaneous Replication of Hydrophilic and Superhydrophobic Micropatterns through Area-Selective Monomers Self-Assembly (Adv. Mater. Interfaces 17/2016), Advanced Materials Interfaces (2016). DOI: 10.1002/admi.201670084

Related Stories

Breakthrough for lab-on-a-chip material

February 24, 2016

Researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a new polymer suited for photostructuring, which opens new possibilities for medical diagnostics, biophotonics and 3D printing.

Material enables more reliable and meaningful self-screening

February 25, 2016

Paper-based diagnostics enable rapid medical test results at minimal cost—and now they're about to get even better. A new synthetic paper developed by Swedish researchers could enable simultaneous screenings for multiple ...

Making microscopic machines using metallic glass

May 22, 2012

Researchers in Ireland have developed a new technology using materials called bulk metallic glasses to produce high-precision molds for making tiny plastic components. The components, with detailed microscopically patterned ...

The smallest puzzle in the world

July 15, 2013

Three pieces of less than 1 mm in size each may be put together to the probably smallest puzzle in the world. For production, researchers used LIGA2.X, a new process to manufacture microstructured casting molds at KIT's ANKA ...

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.