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Diffusion Bonding of Micro-Channelled Polymers

Thu, 25 January, 2024

Drawing upon 50 years’ experience of diffusion bonding processes, TWI has successfully completed a project investigating the diffusion bonding of polymers to create micro-channelled demonstrators.

Watch the video, below, which features Principal Project Leader, Dr Abbasi Gandhi and Senior Project Leader Vaishali Prabhu sharing the challenges, benefits and the results of this project.

The demonstrators are representative of micro-fluidic channels that are used in industries including diagnostic, medical, pharmaceutical and aerospace, with the micro-scale channels being used to precisely deliver small quantities of fluid.

Although thermal bonding has been used in the past, the implementation of diffusion bonding techniques have allowed for the creation of parts that maintain transparency so that the fluids can be seen with little or no deformation.

By using diffusion bonding, TWI has created more cost-effective, yet also clean and safe solution with the addition of precise laser machining to create channels of between 5mm and 50 microns in size.

The production method involves the use of a vacuum furnace to heat the polymers to below the glass transition temperature before the channels were checked under an optical microscope and pressure tested for effectiveness.

This breakthrough will allow for an increased complexity in future devices and TWI can offer full manufacturing support for Industrial Members who wish to take advantage of this innovation.

This project was funded as part of the TWI Core Research Programme

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