Microcontact Printer µCP6.1

Micromachining to perfection: µCP6.1 combines two lithography methods for transparent targets. Nanoimprint lithography on the upper level and optical lithography on the lower level allow complex microfluidic patterns in a single step.

Microcontact Printer µCP4.1

µCP4.1 is the most popular and automatic solution for microcontact printing and Nanoimprint Lithography (NIL). It comprises a centrifuge, polymer dispensers, heated target holders as well as the proprietary GeSiM stamping method, synchronizing up to five individual stamps.

All GeSiM Microcontact Printers

feature high-precise polymer stamps with image fields up to 20mm x 20mm. A dedicated casting tool makes copies of each stamp and keeps operational costs low.

µCP Core

A  semi-automatic entry level microcontact printer, to be placed on commercial microscopes

Microneedle Arrays...

...are minimally invasive devices and show a great potential for drug delivery through the skin's outermost layer (stratum corneum). For research purposes the GeSiM microcontact printers are now able to make such arrays by NIL, whereas the Nano-PlotterTM automatically deposits drugs to individual needles.

Microcontact Printers for Surface Patterning and Nanoimprint Lithography

The GeSiM microcontact printers are designed to simplify prototyping of microfluidic devices and tiny 3D structures. These instruments close the gap between microfluidic research and production. They help to overcome typical design barriers:

  • Photomask based lithography is expensive, each design change requires a new mask.
  • Micro casting tools for mass production of disposable fluidic chips and cartridges are even more expensive.
  • Biological samples quickly clog microchannels, revealing design failures and optimization needs.

GeSiM microcontact printers produce small series of tiny 3D imprints in an affordable manner. A single initial investment speeds up your R/D in the world of microtechnology.

Overview

GeSiM microcontact printers always combine two methods on one platform: a) Microcontact printing allows surface patterning down to 100 Nanometres and b) Nano Imprint Lithography (NIL) creates tiny 3D structures in polymers. Each µCP features polymer stamps with user specific patterns. An external casting station replicates consumed stamps to keep operating costs reasonably. Click the tab Procedures for details.

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All GeSiM microcontact printers offer identical stamping method by pneumatic actuation and Z-movement. The compact benchtop instruments are affordable, they don’t need expensive granite beds or damping tables.


Automatic Microcontact Printers

Our automatic platforms offer programmable sequences for liquid dispensing/spinning, built-in alignment micoscopes as well as unattended stamp picking/discarding for more complex applications.

µCP4.1 (Video above)

It is the most popular microcontact printer for transparent and non transparent targets (E.g. silicon wafers). It comes with alignment camera, stamp head, UV hardening and rack for up to five stamps. The max. stamp size is 20 x 20 mm. Up to five different inks/reagents can be printed by aligning all stamps to specific fiducial markers on the target.

µCP6.1

The automatic micro-contact printer has a two-level working tray which makes it perfect for UV transparent print targets. The UV source is arranged on the lower level, opposite to the print stamp on the upper level. A collimator combined with a photomask synchronizes the exposition frame perfectly to the stamp image field. This method allows multiple imprints on one target up to six inches without spacing between adjacent images (“Chessboard” style). With a patterned photo mask in the UV beam, two lithography steps at once (Photolithography and stamping) become feasible. It allows to create more complex designs in one step, e.g. tiny pillars in the center of a microfluidic channel.

µCP6.1/E

Same as before, a larger work tray adapts more targets for batch processing. All µCP6.1 instruments feature powerful but silent and precise linear motors.

µCP4.1 does single or multiple prints with spacing in between (Left); µCP6.1 is capable of perfectly matched “chessboard” prints (Middle); The collimator optics of µCP6.1 (Right) combines photolithography with nanoimprint lithography

µCP4.1 does single or multiple prints with spacing in between (Left); µCP6.1 is capable of perfectly matched “chessboard” prints (Middle); The collimator optics of µCP6.1 (Right) combines photolithography with nanoimprint lithography

Included with each instrument:

  • Stamp rack for up to five individual stamps
  • Alignment microscope
  • UV lamp (Omnicure S1500)
  • Pneumatic cartridge dispenser with heater
  • Spin coater, heated substrate table

Options:

  • Nanoliter pipetting unit
  • Powder Pipet

Semiautomatic Microcontact Printers

Here we present solutions for low-throughput research, without the need of automatic tooling and alignment.

µCP Core

This entry-level microcontact printer offers attractive price and manages just one stamp. It fits on the stage of most popular inverse microscopes. Stamp alignment is than done by the microscope table instead of the GeSiM printer. Accessories like UV-lamp and temperature control module are available. As for the automatic printers, µCP Core uses stamps of two sizes: 20mm x 20mm and 10mm x 10mm.

µCP Core (right) on a microscope stage.

µCP Core (right) on a microscope stage.


Microcontact Printing With the GeSiM Polymer Stamps

Whether you decide for an automatic solution or for the entry-level µCP Core, the stamping module is always the same. The clever combination of pneumatic actuation and Z-movement ensures high reproducibility for patterns down to the range of 100 Nanometres.

Layout of µCP4.1 with optional pipetting unit

Layout of µCP4.1 with optional pipetting unit – An automatic benchtop robot

Components of µCP Elements

Components of µCP Core – Requires an inverse microscope as well as a UV lamp (Not included)

Our Microcontact Printer for your Individual Research

The particular foot layout of the polymer stamp is always the specific link to your daily research routine. A typical startup incorporates the following steps:

  • An application test with your material will be done at GeSiM if necessary. Feel free to contact us.
  • Based on your unique print design(s) GeSiM developes one or several silicon master chips.
  • Each GeSiM microcontact printer comes with a small casting station to produce copies of the sensitive stamp(s). Thus your operational costs remain reasonably even when your process requires “fresh” stamps very often. During the design optimization new silicon masters can be ordered at GeSiM.

High-precision lithography with the bulged stamp

Basic function of all GeSiM microcontact printers

The footprint of the stamp represents particular patterns down to 100 Nanometres. Both PDMS and PTFE are proven polymers for these stamps. The complete process differs for microcontact printing and NIL (See next tab). Both SU8 and NOA 81 (Norland) are popular resists for 3D imprinting.

When the print head touches down the stamp gets bulged out by air pressure and connects smoothly and without artefacts to the substrate surface. Onboard video microscopes on the automatic printers allow X/Y/Phi alignment of the stamp to existing patterns or markers on your target object.

Fluidic “flow-through” stamps are a special version for applying grains or bead during the microcontact printing process.

Different Sizes of PDMS stamps for GeSiM micro-contact printers

Different sizes of PDMS stamps for GeSiM microcontact printers

Optional Tools for Material Handling on µCP4.1 and µCP6.1

All automatic GeSiM microcontact printers come with built-in spinning table, heated object holders as well as heated cartridge dispenser. It allows to create homogeneous resist layers for precise NIL. Our optional tools allow selective coatings and the application of multiple materials on the target:

  • Displacement pipet tips as you use it in your daily work flow
  • Piezoelectric GeSiM dispensers for managing smallest volumes
  • Piezoelectric valves (Third party) for making smallest drops of high-viscous liquids.
  • Powder pipets for transfer of micrograms of granular materials.
µCP stamp (Left) and powder pipet (Right) above a reservoir

µCP stamp (Left) and powder pipet above a reservoir (Right)

UV Lamp

The UV lamp for resist hardening is part of all automatic microcontact printers but optionally available for µCP Core.

UV hardening during NIL on µCP4.1

UV hardening during NIL on µCP4.1


Each GeSiM microcontact printer allows two different applications:

Microcontact Printing

This process transfers a sample liquid called “ink” onto a planar target surface. The PDMS stamp is inked with the sample, subsequently pressed onto the surface, thereby transferring the sample only from the high areas, as in letterpress