Microfluidic Device Uses COC in Disposable Cartridge for Reduced Water Absorption and Low Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate
FLORENCE, Ky., August 25, 2017 – Sandstone Diagnostics, based in Livermore, Calif., has launched a unique male fertility management system made of TOPAS® cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) from TOPAS Advanced Polymers. The Trak® Male Fertility System is a microfluidic device which uses TOPAS 8007S-04 in a disposable cartridge due to its low moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), decreased water absorption, and biocompatibility. The sample is transferred into a cartridge using a dropper and the cartridge is pressed onto a centrifuge which spins to initiate the microfluidic process.
Sandstone Diagnostics began work on the male fertility point-of-care (POC) testing device in 2012. The company tested numerous materials and eventually selected TOPAS resin for its superior material properties which enhanced the design and functionality of its initial system. The TOPAS material was one of three polymers that Sandstone tested in the early development stage. Ulrich Schaff, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Sandstone, explained that other material options such as PC, PS, and clear ABS were considered but lacked the adequate barrier properties. The main issue was that these materials absorbed fluid and transmitted vapor over time, according to Schaff.
“Storage of materials that are moisture sensitive or trying to keep fluid in can be a real challenge,” said Schaff. “We needed to store a small amount of fluid, less than 1/10ml, which pushed the limits for what you can store long-term. Most plastics aren’t suitable for storing fluids for an extended period, but the TOPAS material performed very well.”
Additionally, the TOPAS resin provided adequate durability compared with polystyrene, along with better dimensional stability than PC, resulting in flat injection molded parts which were tough enough for the mechanical processes of the application. COC also delivered strong biocompatibility with the reagents that were used, resulting in no leaching.
The disposable cartridge also required high transparency and low autofluorescence for efficient sample analysis. Because COC is an amorphous material, a solid ultrasonic weld of the two sections of the cartridge was achieved, according to Schaff. Among the polymers tested, the TOPAS material offered the best control in welding.
COC did present one challenge in pad printing. The company overcame the ink’s non-adherence by using a low-powered corona treatment combined with ink formulated for polyolefins.
Now with a proven microfluidics platform utilizing COC, Sandstone is examining additional COC-based products to bring to market.
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About Sandstone Diagnostics Inc.
Sandstone Diagnostics Inc. designs and develops healthcare equipment and technology solutions for fertility management for men. It offers the Trak® fertility system that includes an engine, a disposable test cartridge and seal, a sample collection cup, and a dropper that empowers men to monitor their sperm quality, take charge of their fertility, and improve their chances of conception. The company also provides a Trak® mobile application that enables customers to monitor their fertility stats over time; identify sources of fertility impairment; and take steps to improve their health and chances of conception. Sandstone Diagnostics Inc. was incorporated in 2012 and is based in Livermore, Calif. For more information, visit www.trakfertility.com or www.sandstonediagnostics.com.