Melt-and-mold fabrication (MnM-Fab) of reconfigurable low-cost devices for use in resource-limited settings.

PMID 26459439


Interest in low-cost analytical devices (especially for diagnostics) has recently increased; however, concomitant translation to the field has been slow, in part due to personnel and supply-chain challenges in resource-limited settings. Overcoming some of these challenges require the development of a method that takes advantage of locally available resources and/or skills. We report a Melt-and-mold fabrication (MnM Fab) approach to low-cost and simple devices that has the potential to be adapted locally since it requires a single material that is recyclable and simple skills to access multiple devices. We demonstrated this potential by fabricating entry level bio-analytical devices using an affordable low-melting metal alloy, Field's metal, with molds produced from known materials such as plastic (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS)), glass, and paper. We fabricated optical gratings then 4×4 well plates using the same recycled piece of metal. We then reconfigured the well plates into rapid prototype microfluidic devices with which we demonstrated laminar flow, droplet generation, and bubble formation from T-shaped channels. We conclude that this MnM-Fab method is capable of addressing some challenges typically encountered with device translation, such as technical know-how or material supply, and that it can be applied to other devices, as needed in the field, using a single moldable material.