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Keywords:

  • Micromoulding;
  • thermoforming;
  • polymer films;
  • surface modification;
  • biomedical engineering

Abstract

For roughly ten years now, a new class of polymer micromoulding processes comes more and more into the focus both of the microtechnology and the biomedical engineering community. These processes can be subsumed under the term “microthermoforming”. In microthermoforming, thin polymer films are heated to a softened, but still solid state and formed to thin-walled microdevices by three-dimensional stretching. The high material coherence during forming is in contrast to common polymer microreplication processes where the material is processed in a liquid or flowing state. It enables the preservation of premodifications of the film material. In this progress report, we review the still young state of the art of microthermoforming technology as well as its first applications. So far, the applications are mainly in the biomedical field. They benefit from the fact that thermoformed microdevices have unique properties resulting from their special, unusual morphology. The focus of this paper is on the impact of the new class of micromoulding processes and the processed film materials on the characteristics of the moulded microdevices and on their applications.