Miniaturized Free-Flow Electrophoresis: Production, Optimization, And Application Using 3d Printing Technology


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The increasing resolution of three-dimensional (3D) printing offers simplified access to, and development of, microfluidic devices with complex 3D structures. Therefore, this technology is increasingly used for rapid prototyping in laboratories and industry. Microfluidic free flow electrophoresis (mu FFE) is a versatile tool to separate and concentrate different samples (such as DNA, proteins, and cells) to different outlets in a time range measured in mere tens of seconds and offers great potential for use in downstream processing, for example. However, the production of mu FFE devices is usually rather elaborate. Many designs are based on chemical pretreatment or manual alignment for the setup. Especially for the separation chamber of a mu FFE device, this is a crucial step which should be automatized. We have developed a smart 3D design of a mu FFE to pave the way for a simpler production. This study presents (1) a robust and reproducible way to build up critical parts of a mu FFE device based on high-resolution MultiJet 3D printing; (2) a simplified insertion of commercial polycarbonate membranes to segregate separation and electrode chambers; and (3) integrated, 3D-printed wells that enable a defined sample fractionation (chip-to-world interface). In proof of concept experiments both a mixture of fluorescence dyes and a mixture of amino acids were successfully separated in our 3D-printed mu FFE device.
3D printing, Chip&#8208, to&#8208, world interface, Free&#8208, flow electrophoresis, Lab&#8208, on&#8208, a&#8208, chip, Microfluidic
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