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    Figure 4 Printer assists the development of rapid diagnosis equipment for new coronary pneumonia

    The Lacewing project of Imperial College London is a lab-on-a-chip platform for diagnosing and tracking diseases. Its key components are 3D printed using 3D Systems' Figure 4 printer and biocompatible materials.


    Develop biocompatibility and functional microfluidic components for rapid and portable diagnostic testing.


    3D Systems' Figure 4 Standalone printer and biocompatible materials.


    Fast iteration of biocompatible microfluidic manifolds;

    Biocompatible materials do not inhibit necessary biochemical reactions;

    Batch processing to improve efficiency;

    The speed and accuracy of 3D printing encourages more experimentation in the design.

    The sudden and shocking development of global new coronary pneumonia has highlighted the importance of timely and rapid disease detection. The ability to detect diseases can not only better contain the disease to prevent further spread, but also enable epidemiologists to collect more information to better understand the mysterious threats that were otherwise invisible. From revealing the route of transmission to the infection rate, the importance of detecting infectious diseases has been realized globally.

    A team of researchers at Imperial College London, led by Dr. Pantelis Georgiou, is directly solving the problem of rapid detection through a pathogen detection project called "Lacewing".

    Lacewing provides results within 20 minutes after syncing the smartphone application to the cloud server, making disease testing more portable, including SARD-CoV-2-RNA, and automatically tracking disease progression through geotagging.

    It is an advanced "lab on a chip" platform, which is expected to fill the access and information gaps in the diagnostic field by combining molecular biology and the latest technology. Other diagnostic techniques require large and expensive optical equipment, and the electric induction method and the small Lacewing project are real developments in the method.

    3D Systems Figure 4 Standalone 3D printer and biocompatible production-grade materials are very fortunate to participate in this project. Figure 4 printer is used for the prototyping and production of microfluidic technology and functional components. Matthew Cavuto, a student and research assistant at Imperial College, mentioned that the key components of Lacewing are designed based on his understanding of Figure 4. "Microfluidic technology is a tricky thing. Traditionally, the manufacturing process is done through a slow, expensive and labor-intensive clean room process. With the help of Figure 4, We are now able to quickly print parts using complex internal 3D fluid channels to transfer the sample fluid to different sensing areas on the chip, thus greatly improving our microfluidic production capabilities. "

    Although the design element is critical to this project, this is only one of the highly complex solutions. In addition to the part complexity and detail fidelity supported by 3D Systems' Figure 4, the 3D printing solution also helped the research team improve printing speed, printing quality and enrich the choice of biocompatible materials.

    The microfluidic box printed with Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 material is installed in the housing printed with Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 material

    Rapid iteration to meet the demand for new coronary pneumonia testing


    The Lacewing platform has been developed for more than two years. It is a molecular diagnostic test that works by identifying the DNA or RNA of pathogens in patient samples. This type of test can not only determine whether someone is infected with a certain disease (dengue fever, malaria, tuberculosis, new coronary pneumonia, etc.), but also determine the extent to which it can gain a deeper understanding of the severity of symptoms.

    Before the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia, the driving force of this test was the realization of portable tests in remote areas of the world. Although portability is generally taken for granted in the era of smartphones, molecular diagnostics traditionally require large and expensive laboratory equipment.

    Lacewing has used microchips to replace the previous optical technology with electronic technology, and has rapidly printed prototypes, iterations and production using Figure 4 Standalone's biocompatible materials. Each Lacewing microfluidic cartridge is approximately 30mm x 6mm x 5mm, printed in 10 micron layers.

    When the research team started to adjust the tests to meet the global testing needs of COVID-19, the team started printing new designs almost every day. Cavuto said the speed of this machine is a big benefit. He said: "I was able to use Figure 4 to print and test three versions of a specific component in one day. In the past two months, we have easily completed the development of 30 versions." This rapid iterative design ability reduces the trouble of trying new things, and the resulting experiments and more information collection have led to the entire system Improvements.

    The team uses SOLIDWORKS to design all its parts, and uses 3DSprint® software to set up each print. 3D Sprint is a multifunctional software of 3D Systems, which is used to prepare, optimize and manage the 3D printing process. It is very useful for the research team to find and solve unexpected problems. Cavuto said: "Sometimes, in the "Preparation" tab, we will receive STL errors that 3D Sprint can solve for us."

    Cavuto mentioned that many different 3D printers have been used in the past, but Figure 4 is different because there are fewer obstacles to printing in terms of time, cost and quality. I printed a part and saw if it worked. If not, I will redesign and print again in a few hours. Because of the speed of the printer, I was able to iterate super fast.

    The biocompatibility of the material is essential for the expected reaction to occur without inhibition

    True biocompatible materials will not inhibit chemical reactions


    Although the need for quick test options brings time pressure, speed is not the most important factor for the research team. Because this application is in direct contact with DNA, only certain biocompatible materials are possible.

    The team at Imperial College is using Figure 4 MED-AMB 10, which is a transparent amber material that can meet ISO 10993-5 and -10 standards for biocompatibility (cytotoxicity, sensitization and Irritation)*, And can be sterilized by autoclave. This material is used for translucent microfluidic manifolds.

    ▲Figure 4 MED-AMB 10

    Cavuto said: "Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 shows impressive biocompatibility for our PCR reaction." "Many of the materials we tried in the past inhibited them, but Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 shows low interaction with our reaction chemicals." This is essential for the entire project, because any interference with the production materials may delay or prevent the expected reaction from occurring.

    Use Figure 4 various materials


    The team not only used Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 to print Lacewing's microfluidic components, but also used Figure 4 PRO-BLK-10 (a production-grade, strong and heat-resistant material) to make the device housing, and Figure 4 RUBBER -65A BLK (a newly released elastomer material), Used to make gaskets through equipment. Part of the lace is made of Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 20. This material has the look and feel of polypropylene. Except for electronic equipment and some hardware, almost all equipment is currently produced using the Figure 4 system.

    ▲Figure 4 PRO-BLK-10

    ▲Figure 4 RUBBER-65A BLK

    Completely clean and post-process within 20 minutes


    A clean and smooth surface is essential to the ultimate function of the Lacewing filter element. Since the project is still in the design stage, the team has not yet fully loaded the molding platform, but estimates that it can build up to about thirty microfluidic cartridges at a time. Considering the sensitivity of the application, post-processing is essential. After printing, the parts will be cleaned in IPA, cured, polished and cleaned again to ensure that the parts are completely free of residue or grinding particles. Cavuto said: "We hope to avoid contamination at all costs, and ensuring that parts are clean and disinfected is essential for successful response and accurate diagnosis."

    Cavuto estimates that overall, post-processing takes less than 20 minutes, and many parts can be completed at once.

    Once verified by the NHS, the research team plans to expand the production scale of COVID-19 testing

    New development and innovation capabilities


    Cavuto said: "Figure 4 changes what I can print, or what I think I have creative ability." "In terms of resolution, speed, surface quality, material range and biocompatibility, Figure 4 is Has a great advantage."

    Imperial College’s research team plans to pass the National Health Service (NHS) to verify the new crown pneumonia test as soon as possible, paving the way for mass production in the next six months.

    For more information about 3D Systems Figure 4 and biocompatible production-grade materials, please scan the QR code to download our material guide.

    *Biocompatibility is based on 3D Systems' testing of individual geometric shapes and sample groups according to ISO 10993-5 and -10. The user should confirm its adaptability and biocompatibility.

    About 3D Systems

    3D Systems provides comprehensive 3D products and services, including 3D printers, printing materials, cloud computing on-demand custom parts and digital design tools. The company's ecosystem covers advanced applications from product design to factory floors. 3D Systems' precise medical solutions include simulation, virtual surgery planning, medical and dental equipment, and printing of surgical instruments customized for patients. 3D Systems has spent 30 years helping professionals and companies optimize their designs, transform their work processes, bring innovative products to the market, and drive new business models.