Computer-Aided Spatially Optimized Design of Layer-Assembled Micro-Scale Mechanical Resistance Networks for 3D printing

by Elishai Ezra Tsur Ariel Shamir

Abstract

Microfluidic circuits, a sub class of lab-on-a-chip systems, are rapidly expanding into biological, chemical and physical research. The current design process of modern microfluidic circuits starts with system specifications and concludes with a geometric realization of a topological graph that describes a 2-dimensional network of mechanical micro-scale channels. This design paradigm often relies on numerical modeling and experimentation results to refine and test the design. This paradigm is computationally intensive and is not suitable for effective parameter-controlled model validation. Moreover, since fabrication of microfluidic circuits is dominantly based on soft-lithography, the design to production transition often requires manual intervention. In this work, we present an automatic design process for resistance microfluidic circuits that outputs a fabrication-ready circuit model following a given set of specifications. We exploit the hydraulic-electric circuit analogy to define an abstract specification of microfluidic circuits. Based on this abstract specification, we defined an algorithm that uses fabrication-related constraint propagation and an optimization protocol to suggest a spatially optimized design for the proposed circuit. Finally, we automatically generate a vector-graphics model for 3D printing. Our approach can significantly reduce the design time of microfluidics circuits, allowing a seamless computer-aided transition from concept to production.