Process development for the production of optically transparent micro-features
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The emergence of biofluidics devices and "Lab-on-a-Chip" testing platforms has resulted in a need for the low cost production of optically transparent micro-features. The goal of the study was to develop a process to fabricate optically transparent microfeatures. Two biofluidics chips were used as a case study to explore possible production pathways. The process developed was used for low unit production, but also provided a stepping stone for high volume production. The goal was accomplished by exploring two phases of the manufacturing process: Tool production and casting. Micro-feature tool production was explored through the micro-machining of mold cavities and surface enhancement using electrochemical polishing techniques. A computational model was developed to predict material removal rates of the electropolishing process and optimize process parameters. The candidate parts were fabricated and replicated through low pressure casting with the machined micro-molds. The process provided insight to the feasibility of injection molding of the two candidate devices. The knowledge gained from this study will act as a stepping stone to aid in developing techniques for the mass production of optically transparent micro-features.