Rapid Customization and Manipulation Mechanism of Micro-Droplet Chip for 3D Cell Culture

Micromachines 2022 Volume 13, Issue 12, Article 2050

A full PDMS micro-droplet chip for 3D cell culture was prepared by using SLA light-curing 3D printing technology. This technology can quickly customize various chips required for experiments, saving time and capital costs for experiments. Moreover, an injection molding method was used to prepare the full PDMS chip, and the convex mold was prepared by light-curing 3D printing technology. Compared with the traditional preparation process of micro-droplet chips, the use of 3D printing technology to prepare micro-droplet chips can save manufacturing and time costs. The different ratios of PDMS substrate and cover sheet and the material for making the convex mold can improve the bonding strength and power of the micro-droplet chip. Use the prepared micro-droplet chip to carry out micro-droplet forming and manipulation experiments. Aimed to the performance of the full PDMS micro-droplet chip in biological culture was verified by using a solution such as chondrocyte suspension, and the control of the micro-droplet was achieved by controlling the flow rate of the dispersed phase and continuous phase. Experimental verification shows that the designed chip can meet the requirements of experiments, and it can be observed that the micro-droplets of sodium alginate and the calcium chloride solution are cross-linked into microspheres with three-dimensional (3D) structures. These microspheres are fixed on a biological scaffold made of calcium silicate and polyvinyl alcohol. Subsequently, the state of the cells after different time cultures was observed, and it was observed that the chondrocytes grew well in the microsphere droplets. The proposed method has fine control over the microenvironment and accurate droplet size manipulation provided by fluid flow compared to existing studies.