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An explorative study of polymers for 3D printing of bioanalytical test systems

: Jurishka, Christoph; Dinter, Franziska; Efimova, Anastasia; Weiss, Romano; Schiebel, Juliane; Schulz, Christian; Fayziev, Bekzodjon; Schierack, Peter; Fischer, Thomas; Rödiger, Stefan


Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation 75 (2020), No.1, pp.57-84
ISSN: 1386-0291
ISSN: 1875-8622
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZI ()
3D printing; thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers; autofluorescence

Background: The 3D printing is relevant as a manufacturing technology of functional models for forensic, pharmaceutical and bioanalytical applications such as drug delivery systems, sample preparation and point-of-care tests.
Objective: Melting behavior and autofluorescence of materials are decisive for optimal printing and applicability of the product which are influenced by varying unknown additives.
Methods: We have produced devices for bioanalytical applications from commercially available thermoplastic polymers using a melt-layer process. We characterized them by differential scanning calorimetry, fluorescence spectroscopy and functional assays (DNA capture assay, model for cell adhesion, bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation test).
Results: From 14 tested colored, transparent and black materials we found only deep black acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and some black polylactic acid (PLA) useable for fluorescence-based assays, with low autofluorescence only in the short-wave range of 300-400 nm. PLA was suitable for standard bioanalytical purposes due to a glass transition temperature of approximately 60°C, resistance to common laboratory chemicals and easy print processing. For temperature-critical methods, such as hybridization reactions up to 90°C, ABS was better suited.
Conclusions: Autofluorescence was not a disadvantage per se but can also be used as a reference signal in assays. The rapid development of individual protocols for sample processing and analysis required the availability of a material with consistent quality over time. For fluorescence-based assays, the use of commercial standard materials did not seem to meet this requirement.