A cost-effective process chain for thermoplastic microneedle manufacture combining laser micro-machining and micro-injection moulding

Mert Gulcur, Jean-Michel Romano, Pavel Penchev, Tim Gough, Elaine Brown, Stefan Dimov, Ben Whiteside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
159 Downloads (Pure)


High-throughput manufacturing of transdermal microneedle arrays poses a significant challenge due to the high precision and number of features that need to be produced and the requirement of multi-step processing methods for achieving challenging micro-features. To address this challenge, we report a flexible and cost-effective process chain for transdermal microneedle array manufacture that includes mould production using laser machining and replication of thermoplastic microneedles via micro-injection moulding (micromoulding). The process chain also incorporates an in-line manufacturing data monitoring capability where the variability in the quality of microneedle arrays can be determined in a production run using captured data. Optical imaging and machine vision technologies are also implemented to create a quality inspection system that allows rapid evaluation of key quality indicators. The work presents the capability of laser machining as a cost-effective method for making microneedle moulds and micro-injection moulding of thermoplastic microneedle arrays as a highly-suitable manufacturing technique for large-scale production with low marginal cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalCIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research work was undertaken in the context of MICROMAN project (“Process Fingerprint for Zero-defect Net-shape MICROMANufacturing”, http://www.microman.mek.dtu.dk/). MICROMAN is a European Training Network supported by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Project ID: 674801). This research has also received funding and support from two other Horizon 2020 projects: HIMALAIA (Grant agreement No. 766871) and Laser4Fun (GA no. 675063).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 CIRP


  • data acquisition
  • laser micro-machining
  • micro-injection molding
  • microneedle arrays
  • polymer replication
  • process monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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