Panasonic Partners With The Institute of Microchemical Technology

Panasonic corporation is a known global leader in the development of different types of technology solutions for use by customers in various industries. Specific reports released by the companies as to the newly developed technology are as follows;

Effect

Conventional glass microfluidic devices have not been widely used, because of high cost and poor precision. This development achieved mass production and cost reduction of glass microfluidic devices by combining IMT’s microfluidic device design technology and Panasonic’s glass molding technology. As a result, disposable use of glass microfluidic devices becomes possible. In addition, by realizing high precision, it is easy to incorporate the device as a part of equipment and systems.

Application 

By taking advantage of the environmental and chemical resistance of glass microfluidic devices, it can be applied to environmental sensing, blood testing, and pharmaceutical equipment as disposable detection devices for analysis and testing in outdoor and harsh environments.

Characteristic

The newly developed microfluidic device has the following features. 
1. Up to φ50mm size 
2. More than 10,000 devices per month of production capacity 
3. Manufacturing process with the shape precision of about 1μm

Technology 

This development is realized by the following technologies. 
(1) Design and interface technology of microfluidic device optimized for glass molding 
(2) Microstructure mold processing technology to higher hardness material and microstructural glass molding technology to precisely transfer to glass 
(3) Thermal bonding technology to join a flat glass plate and a plate with microstructures.

Background

General microfluidic device made of glass used in microfluidics technology is mainly produced by etching techniques. After drawing the flow path pattern by photolithography, the glass flow path is formed by etching, and the cover glass with the machined introduction hole is bonded. Since the inception of this field, IMT has provided high-level products as a pioneer in the planning, design and manufacture of glass microfluidic devices. However, in addition to the skill required for manual manufacturing, the manufacturing process took several months. For this reason, the manufacturing time and cost per piece became a hurdle, and generalization and industrial mounting were not realized, and the use was limited mainly to basic research applications.

On the other hand, Panasonic has been developing and manufacturing glass molding technology from the 1980s, that has contributed to the commercialization of the world’s highest level of optical device. They are used in lenses for various optical devices, like digital still cameras.

By combining Panasonic’s glass molding technology and IMT design technology, it became possible to develop microstructure mold machining technology, molding technology, and joining technology suitable for mass production of microfluidic devices using glass molding technology. The companies have succeeded in developing mass production technology for microfluidic devices. As a result, it is possible to reduce the cost to about 1/10 compared to the conventional manufacturing method, and to supply glass microfluidic devices with improved precision 10 times or more in less than half the delivery time.

Practical realization

With the development of mass production technology for microfluidic devices using this glass molding technology, glass microfluidic devices are widely used as disposable detection devices for analysis and testing in outdoor and harsh environments, and for disposable devices for blood testing equipment.

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