An integrated technology of CO2 laser processing and polymer molding has been demonstrated for the rapid prototyping of biodegradable poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) microneedle arrays. Rapid and low-cost CO2 laser processing was used for the fabrication of a high-aspect-ratio microneedle master mold instead of conventional time-consuming and expensive photolithography and etching processes. It is crucial to use flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to detach PLGA. However, the direct CO2 laser-ablated PDMS could generate poor surfaces with bulges, scorches, re-solidification and shrinkage. Here, we have combined the polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) ablation and two-step PDMS casting process to form a PDMS female microneedle mold to eliminate the problem of direct ablation. A self-assembled monolayer polyethylene glycol was coated to prevent stiction between the two PDMS layers during the peeling-off step in the PDMS-to-PDMS replication. Then the PLGA microneedle array was successfully released by bending the second-cast PDMS mold with flexibility and hydrophobic property. The depth of the polymer microneedles can range from hundreds of micrometers to millimeters. It is linked to the PMMA pattern profile and can be adjusted by CO2 laser power and scanning speed. The proposed integration process is maskless, simple and low-cost for rapid prototyping with a reusable mold.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering