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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • Mert Gulcur
  • Tim Gough
  • Elaine Brown
  • Ben Whiteside

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Bradford

Abstract

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.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
JournalCIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology
Volume32
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021

Keywords

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