Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Fabrication routes via projection stereolithography for 3D-printing of microfluidic geometries for nucleic acid amplification

Lookup NU author(s): Babis Tzivelekis, Pavlos Sgardelis, Dr Kevin WaldronORCiD, Dr Richard Whalley, Dr Dehong Huo, Professor Kenneth Dalgarno



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Digital Light Processing (DLP) stereolithography (SLA) as a high-resolution 3D printing process offers a low-cost alternative for prototyping of microfluidic geometries, compared to traditional clean-room and workshop-based methods. Here, we investigate DLP-SLA printing performance for the production of micro-chamber chip geometries suitable for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a key process in molecular diagnostics to amplify nucleic acid sequences. A DLP-SLA fabrication protocol for printed micro-chamber devices with monolithic micro-channels is developed and evaluated. Printed devices were post-processed with ultraviolet (UV) light and solvent baths to reduce PCR inhibiting residuals and further treated with silane coupling agents to passivate the surface, thereby limiting biomolecular adsorption occurences during the reaction. The printed devices were evaluated on a purpose-built infrared (IR) mediated PCR thermocycler. Amplification of 75 base pair long target sequences from genomic DNA templates on fluorosilane and glass modified chips produced amplicons consistent with the control reactions, unlike the non-silanized chips that produced faint or no amplicon. The results indicated good functionality of the IR thermocycler and good PCR compatibility of the printed and silanized SLA polymer. Based on the proposed methods, various microfluidic designs and ideas can be validated in-house at negligible costs without the requirement of tool manufacturing and workshop or clean-room access. Additionally, the versatile chemistry of 3D printing resins enables customised surface properties adding significant value to the printed prototypes. Considering the low setup and unit cost, design flexibility and flexible resin chemistries, DLP-SLA is anticipated to play a key role in future prototyping of microfluidics, particularly in the fields of research biology and molecular diagnostics. From a system point-of-view, the proposed method of thermocycling shows promise for portability and modular integration of funcitonalitites for diagnostic or research applications that utilize nucleic acid amplification technology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tzivelekis C, Sgardelis P, Waldron K, Whalley R, Huo D, Dalgarno K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2020

Volume: 15

Issue: 10

Online publication date: 28/10/2020

Acceptance date: 22/10/2020

Date deposited: 11/12/2020

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240237


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name