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SMART approach to nano-surfaces

Plastics News Europe staff
Posted 14 September 2010
Researchers at Twente University in the Netherlands and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany are developing pre-and post forming technologies to produce thermoformed parts with micro and nano-scale surface features.

The process comprises the application of micro or nano-scale topographies to polymer films in a pre-modification stage, followed by micro-thermoforming to shape and – in some applications – an additional post modification step.

The technique, referred to as Substrate Modification And Replication by Thermoforming (SMART), is claimed to achieve effects and geometries that are not possible using injection moulding, hot embossing or casting technologies. Potential applications include creation of micro-pattern surfaces for cell adhesion diagnostics or production of nano-porous surfaces.

Twente University researcher Roman Truckenmüller said in a presentation at the SPE Thermoforming Division conference in Antwerp, Belgium, earlier this year that more research is required. However, he said the SMART nano-scale technology promises improved production speed and cost effectiveness.

Applications developed to date have largely targeted microfluidic laboratory devices.These include a “blister” type laboratory products and biodisk “lab-on-foil” devices for high throughput screening (HTS).

The researchers have also worked on a pressure driven polylactic acid (PLA) micro active catheter development for a Japanese organisation.

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