Plastic Microfluidic Chip Customization and Processing

Polymer materials such as plastics have become the main materials for microfluidic chip processing. They have attracted more and more attention because of their superior processability, electrical insulation, optical transparency, surface modifiability, and sealability. It has many kinds, cheap prices, excellent performance index, can apply a high electric field to realize rapid separation, convenient processing and molding, and is easy to realize batch production. There are three main types of polymer materials for processing microfluidic chips: thermoplastic polymers, solidified polymers, and solvent volatile polymers.

Ordering Options

Thermoplastics are the most common and widely used materials in daily life. They are very cheap and can be shaped after being softened at a certain temperature. Alfa Chemistry can provide customization and processing services for the following thermoplastic microfluidic chips.

  • Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)

PMMA chips are characterized by hardness, high transparency, good chemical stability, and resistance to acid and alkali (except strong acids). They can be used as materials for chemical chips, analysis and detection chips, and microreactor preparation. Injection reagents such as ethanol, acetone, and other organic solvents are not allowed.

Chip fabrication, bonding, and debonding process for PMMA-based microfluidic chips.Fig.1 Chip fabrication, bonding, and debonding process for PMMA-based microfluidic chips.

  • Polystyrene (PS). PS has excellent biocompatibility, and as a matrix material for microfluidic chips, it has significant advantages in cell culture and other fields.
  • Cycloolefin Copolymer (COC). As a relatively new amorphous copolymer material, COC has excellent transmittance and better thermal stability in the ultraviolet light band compared with thermoplastic materials such as PMMA. At the same time, its water absorption is only 1/10 of that of PMMA. COC chips can directly replace expensive glass chips in most cases (not under extreme temperature conditions).
  • Polycarbonate (PC). With visible light transparency and extremely high glass conversion temperature (145oC), PC is the preferred material for a range of microfluidic applications in biomedical research and bioanalysis, including DNA cycle applications such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PC microstructure can also be used for sample cleavage, pathogen detection, amplifier labeling, nucleic acid separation, and enzymatic amplification.

The preparation of PC microfluidic chip by inkjet printingFig.2 The preparation of PC microfluidic chip by inkjet printing

Processing Methods

Processing MethodApplicable Scope
MachiningMainly used for a small amount of proofing verification of samples.
Hot embossingSuitable for chip processing with small channel size, but the channel depth is not too deep.
Injection mouldingThe mold is relatively expensive and is suitable for batch production after the product is stereotyped.

Bonding Methods

  • Thermocompression bonding
  • Ultrasonic bonding
  • Laser bonding

If you need thermoplastic chip processing and customized services, please feel free to contact our experts for a free consultation.


  • Yao, Y.; et al. Reversible bonding for microfluidic devices with UV release tape. Microfluidics and Nanofluidics. 2022 Mar;26(3):23.
  • Shen, W.; et al. Direct-writing colloidal photonic crystal microfluidic chips by inkjet printing for label-free protein detection. Lab on a Chip. 2012;12(17):3089-95.

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