Dr. Greg Nordin and his research team have again landed in the top 5% of highly cited authors with the Royal Society of Chemistry journals for their paper on the creation of a custom 3D printer for microfluidic devices.
Their paper, titled “Custom 3D printer and resin for 18 mu m x 20 mu m microfluidic flow channels” and published in July 2017, received 44 citations in 2019 (the year currently in consideration). They published it in Lab on a Chip, the Royal Society journal specializing in medical and bio-engineering on the nanoscale.
The paper demonstrates that “3D printing can consistently fabricate truly microfluidic features by creating a custom 3D printer and a low-cost custom resin.”
In addition to Dr. Nordin, the team consists of BYU biochemistry professor Adam Woolley, electrical engineering senior Bryce Bickham, and former graduate student Hua Gong, whom Dr. Nordin praised for his intimate involvement in making the printer.
Dr. Nordin began considering 3D printing microfluidic devices in 2012 after observing how long it took to make them using traditional cleanroom methods. He attempted the project first with commercial 3D printers and found they could not work on the scale he needed, so he and his team began to build their own custom 3D printer instead. They succeeded.
He summarized the project while speaking at TEDx BYU: “What we’ve done is take this slow cleanroom method of making microfluidic devices, and turned it into a little 3D printer that eliminates the huge cost of the cleanroom and allows you to make prints very quickly. We routinely do things in maybe thirty minutes, twenty minutes, forty minutes, depending on the device, and we can make very complex devices because it doesn’t take any longer to do that.”
One of the project’s overall goals was to speed development of technology surrounding microfluidic devices by enabling more researchers, particularly those without cleanroom access, to get involved. These high citations demonstrate that their ideas are reaching a large audience, just like they hoped.
“We are very excited to see the wonderful things that people will do with the new tool that we’ve created,” Dr. Nordin said.
According to the Society’s website, papers published in Lab on a Chip should demonstrate novelty in both device engineering and applications in biology, chemistry, and medicine; Dr. Nordin’s paper passed the test. Although many researchers have submitted papers on 3D printing, only Dr. Nordin and his team have successfully shown 3D printing of lab-on-a-chip devices with the features on a small enough size scale necessary for many important biomedical applications.
He and his collaborators have published numerous other articles about 3D printing microfluidic devices on topics including chip-to-chip interconnects; compact and highly integrated valves, pumps, and multiplexers; microchannel electrophoresis; and biocompatible 3D printing materials.