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J Lab Autom. 2016 Aug;21(4):510-6. doi: 10.1177/2211068215624408. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Open-Source Wax RepRap 3-D Printer for Rapid Prototyping Paper-Based Microfluidics.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA.


The open-source release of self-replicating rapid prototypers (RepRaps) has created a rich opportunity for low-cost distributed digital fabrication of complex 3-D objects such as scientific equipment. For example, 3-D printable reactionware devices offer the opportunity to combine open hardware microfluidic handling with lab-on-a-chip reactionware to radically reduce costs and increase the number and complexity of microfluidic applications. To further drive down the cost while improving the performance of lab-on-a-chip paper-based microfluidic prototyping, this study reports on the development of a RepRap upgrade capable of converting a Prusa Mendel RepRap into a wax 3-D printer for paper-based microfluidic applications. An open-source hardware approach is used to demonstrate a 3-D printable upgrade for the 3-D printer, which combines a heated syringe pump with the RepRap/Arduino 3-D control. The bill of materials, designs, basic assembly, and use instructions are provided, along with a completely free and open-source software tool chain. The open-source hardware device described here accelerates the potential of the nascent field of electrochemical detection combined with paper-based microfluidics by dropping the marginal cost of prototyping to nearly zero while accelerating the turnover between paper-based microfluidic designs.


3-D printing; electrochemical detection; lab-on-a-chip; paper-based microfluidics; wax

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