We present a library of resin formulations for projection micro-stereolithography (PµSL) consisting of 4-hydroxybutyl acrylate (HBA), poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMEMA) and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), diluted with aqueous solutions of the photoinitiator lithium phenyl(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phosphinate (LAP) and the photoabsorber tartrazine. By varying the concentration and molecular weight of PEGMEMA and PEGDA, the swelling ratios of as-PµSL-printed hydrogel microstructures in water are well tunable with a reversible volume increase ranging from 13% to 86%. Furthermore, we illustrate the influence of exposure time per 3D-printed layer on the swelling ratio of the hydrogels, as well as the swelling time. The minimum feature size of rectangular void structures achieved with an exemplary resin from our material library is approx. 71 μm, while rectangular microchannels at the surface of a PµSLprinted hydrogel made from the same photopolymer formulation exhibit cross-sectional dimensions designed at 54 μm x 50 μm. Based on this initial characterization, microfluidic devices are fabricated to elucidate dimensional changes of microchannels under different swelling conditions (e.g., free swelling and confined swelling inside a chamber or microfluidic device). In addition, we PµSL-print microscopic parts with tailored geometries (cylindrical, pyramidal) that are capable of completely closing microfluidic chambers made from commercially available Perfactory R11 resin in a time-dependent fashion. Our resin library provides 3D-printed hydrogels with micron-scale feature size combined with tunable water uptake, rendering them suitable for designing functional microfluidic units such as membranes, valves and pumps.
Here, we demonstrate the additive manufacturing of two key microvalve designs, namely Nordin’s and Quake’s microvalves, based on a formulation consisting of tri(propylene glycol) diacrylate (TPGDA) as a base material, diphenyl(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl) phosphine oxide (TPO) as a photoinitiator and Sudan1 as the UV-absorber via micro-stereolithography (μSL). Mechanical measurements of test prints show an average Young’s modulus of 15.7 MPa, which is eight times lower compared to several previous studies on 3D-printed microvalves and micropumps based on poly(ethylene glycol diacrylate) 255 (PEGDA-252). We use a high-resolution Cerafab7500 printer (Lithoz GmbH, Vienna) with a minimal lateral resolution of 10.3 μm to print membrane valves with voxel dimensions down to 60μm. Particularly, we study the effect of different comonomers added to the photopolymer formulation – neopentyl glycol propoxylate (1 PO/OH) diacrylate (NPGPDA), 1,6- hexanediol diacrylate (HDDA) and 2-phenoxyethyl acrylate (POEA) – on the layer thickness, which is identified to be a crucial parameter. 3D-printed valves are tested regarding maximum operating pressure withstanding pressures of up to 5 bar. We show that TPGDA-based resins combine high flexibility, mechanical stability, and sufficient resolution for the future design of flow control units in microfluidics.