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Affordable and Flexible Approach for Producing Custom 3D-Printed Cell Culture Devices with Intricate Designs

Cell culture devices, such as microfluidic chips and microwells, are essential for complex biological modelling, yet their widespread adoption is hindered by cost and customisation limitations. To address this, a recent paper has been published in PLOS Biology which presents a streamlined, low-cost microfabrication method tailored for biological labs with limited expertise.

By integrating desktop resin 3D printers with PDMS soft lithography, researchers have developed a cost-effective and highly reproducible microfabrication pipeline. This method allows for the creation of customised cell culture devices with intricate designs, making it an invaluable tool for biological labs.
3D printing can create fully customisable imaging chambers with complex well geometry suitable for cell culture via 2 different methods of PDMS bonding.

3D printing can create fully customisable imaging chambers with complex well geometry suitable for cell culture via 2 different methods of PDMS bonding.
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Henniker's HPT-100  plasma treatment system is employed in the protocol for the PDMS bonding process, notably to improve the bonding of the PDMS and the glass coverslips. Treating these surfaces with oxygen plasma enhances their adhesion properties, allowing for a permanent bond when pressed together. Both coverslip and the PDMS were treated for 30s, at 50% and 7sccm. This process, followed by heating to 100º for 20 minutes, ensures a strong and durable bond. Additionally, the Henniker system's role in biofunctionalisation of the micropatterned PDMS substrates is essential for promoting cellular attachment, using the same parameters above researchers are able to achieve consistent results.

HPT 100 Central

 Image – The Henniker Plasma HPT-100 System

The versatility of this protocol extends to various applications, including cell alignment and hydrogel culturing systems, potentially leading to a surge in bespoke research tools and a new era of discoveries in biological research.

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Readers are referred to the original paper published on March 13, 2023, available through the provided DOI link, or click the link below for further details on Henniker Plasma's HPT-100 Plasma Cleaner.


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