Microfluidic And Optical Molds
Diffractive Optics, Microfluidics and devices for
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) utilize finely
patterned surfaces, with feature sizes from nanometers to several millimeters. These
intricate structures can be diamond machined, created photolithographically, or produced
by laser and/or chemical etching in such delicate materials as silicon wafers, quartz, glass,
and select polymers. In many cases, pattern generation is an expensive and time consuming
As an enabling technology, electroforming provides a way to accurately and cost-effectively
transfer such intricate patterns from fragile or otherwise unstable substrates into durable
matrices. Once a metal matrix has
been fabricated, multiple identical metal replicas from it become possible without the need
to generate additional expensive and time consuming originals. These wear-resistant metal
tools are then used to mass-produce microfluidic or optical components in various polymers.
This is usually accomplished by stamping, embossing, injection or compression molding. The
resulting micro- and nanofluidic devices are known as Lab-on-a-Chip
(also referred to as micro-total-analytical systems or microTAS). They are designed to
miniaturize analytical or bioanalytical (BioMEMS) techniques
by integrating them into a microfabricated format.
NiCoForm fabricates NiColoy® electroforms from 4" (100 mm), 6"
(150 mm), and 8" (200 mm) etched silicon and plastic originals (masters), with a submicron
replication fidelity. Electroforms for molding applications usually range in thickness
from .020" (0.5 mm) up to 0.25" (6 mm), and flatness of +/- .0005" (12.5 microns). Other
sizes and tolerances are possible on request. Back sides of the electroforms are machined
flat and parallel to the molding surfaces.
Common optical components that can be molded using electroformed tools include diffraction
gratings, Fresnel lenses, diffusers, light distribution arrays, etc. Electroformed inserts
for molding, embossing, casting and other plastic fabrication methods usually have flat
machined back surfaces and can be produced from .010" to over .25" thick.
Optical NiColoy® replicas can also be used
directly as metal optics - reflectors, shutters and mirrors, similar to the one depicted
on the right. To enhance their optical performance and durability, high reflectivity inert
coatings such as Gold, Silver, Rhodium, etc. can be applied to the surface.
Unlike optical and microfluidic electroforms, MEMS devices
usually comprise several tightly adherent layers of electroformed (plated) metals on a
variety of substrates. The electroformed layers become part of the finished device which
often functions as a miniature contact, relay, spring or flexure, depending on the high
elasticity of NiColoy® for its performance characteristics.
- More Information:
- Technical Papers on Electroforming for
Optics and Microfluidics.
- Presentations on Electroforming
for Optics and Microfluidics.
- Request more information.