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Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News, October/Fall 2016

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News • Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News Fall 2016 10 How Thermoforming Could Bring Diagnosis to the Point of Care L ab-on-a-chip technology promises to speed up disease diagnosis and bring it to the point of patient care. These "labs" are actually disks designed with microsized channels and chambers that are prefilled with small amounts of diagnostic reagents. The consumable disks are placed into tabletop centrifuge systems where they are filled with patient fluid samples or swab samples; as the fluids pass through the channels and into cham- bers, the system optically detects posi- tive or negative test results. Hahn-Schickard has been manu- facturing lab-on-a-chip systems since 2007, calling the technology a "pocket lab." Some of the company's projects are funded by either the European Union, the German government (BMBF), or the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, reports Dr. Daniel Mark, associate director of Hahn-Schickard, to PMP News. "Additionally, we perform devel- opment for and funded by industry," he says. While the company has been using injection-molded microfluidic disks, it decided to investigate an alterna- tive: inexpensive plastic test elements produced by thermoforming polymer films with chambers and channels. "There is a clear benefit [to] thin- walled disks for fast PCR applications, due to the better heat transfer through the thinner polymer walls compared to injection molded disks," says Mark. "Additionally, we see the potential for inexpensive mass-manufacturing in the future based on a fast roll-to-roll process." For these thin-walled polymer disks, Hahn-Schickard is employing ther- moforming technology from Rohrer AG. "Rohrer has been an excellent partner in the last years in the process of upscaling our prototyping-level ther- moforming process to an industrial, automated process," says Mark. Albert Birkicht, general manager, Rohrer Processing & Packaging Tech- nology, tells PMP News that "Hahn- Schickard wanted to bring diagnostics to markets that had not had them before and to look into alternatives for a low-cost approach." The use of point-of-care diagnostics is especially appealing for markets that lack "per- sonnel and a dedicated infrastructure for handling and transporting blood," he adds. In addition, "the company didn't want to use the traditional injec- tion-molded approach because it is extremely expensive," he continues. "Each tooling run and modification can be about $50,000, so it's prohibi- tive to do a few iterations on a design." The project was perfect for Rohrer. Birkicht says that his company is known for innovation and taking on small, very specialized projects. "We concentrate on specialty projects that The R760S thermoformer from Rohrer AG.

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