The emergence and spread of microfluidics over the last decades relied almost exclusively on the elastomer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The main reason for the success of PDMS in the field of microfluidic research is its suitability for rapid prototyping and simple bonding methods. PDMS allows for precise microstructuring by replica molding and bonding to different substrates through various established strategies. However, large-scale production and commercialization efforts are hindered by the low scalability of PDMS-based chip fabrication and high material costs. Furthermore, fundamental limitations of PDMS, such as small molecule absorption and high water evaporation, have resulted in a shift toward PDMS-free systems. Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are a promising alternative, combining properties from both thermoplastic materials and elastomers. Here, we present a rapid and scalable fabrication method for microfluidic systems based on a polycarbonate (PC) and TPE hybrid material. Microstructured PC/TPE-hybrid modules are generated by hot embossing precise features into the TPE while simultaneously fusing the flexible TPE to a rigid thermoplastic layer through thermal fusion bonding. Compared to TPE alone, the resulting, more rigid composite material improves device handling while maintaining the key advantages of TPE. In a fast and simple process, the PC/TPE-hybrid can be bonded to several types of thermoplastics as well as glass substrates. The resulting bond strength withstands at least 7.5 bar of applied pressure, even after seven days of exposure to a high-temperature and humid environment, which makes the PC/TPE-hybrid suitable for most microfluidic applications. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the PC/TPE-hybrid features low absorption of small molecules while being biocompatible, making it a suitable material for microfluidic biotechnological applications.
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