Assembly of Polymer Microfluidic Components and Modules: Validating Models of Passive Alignment Accuracy

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Low-cost modular polymer microfluidic platforms integrating several different functional units may potentially reduce the cost of molecular and environmental analyses, and enable broader applications. Proper function of such systems depends on well-characterized assembly of the instruments. Passive alignment is one approach to obtaining such assemblies. Model modular devices containing passive alignment features, hemispherical pins in v-grooves, and integrated alignment standards for characterizing the accuracy of the assemblies were replicated in polycarbonate using doubled-sided injection molding. The dimensions and locations of the assembly features and alignment standards were measured. The assemblies had mismatches from 16 ± 4 to 20 ± 6 m along the -axis and from 103 ± 7 to 118 ± 11 m along the -axis. The vertical variation from the nominal value of 287 m ranged from -10 ± 4 to 34 ± 7 m. An assembly tolerance model was used to estimate the accuracy of the assemblies based on the manufacturing variations of the alignment structures. Variation of the alignment structure features were propagated through the assembly using Monte Carlo methods. The estimated distributions matched the measured experimental results well, with differences of 2%-13% due to unmodeled aspects of the variations Accurate assembly of advanced polymer microsystems is feasible and predictable in the design phase. [2014-0125].

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Journal of microelectromechanical systems : a joint IEEE and ASME publication on microstructures, microactuators, microsensors, and microsystems

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