Harrick PlasmaApplicationsDevice Fabrication3D Printing

3D printing is ubiquitous in modern professional and academic laboratories, where researchers continue to find innovative applications. Its essential function is to rapidly provide complex 3D structures with high precision. The technology is now instrumental to many industries, including the life sciences, chemical engineering, materials science, and electrical engineering.

Surface chemistry plays a critical role in every stage of 3D printing, from ink manufacturing to deposition, and subsequent processing. Plasma treatment is often used in tandem with 3D printing, to tailor surface chemistry at each of these stages. The key advantage of plasma is its uniform coverage of exposed 3D structures. It is also much quicker and easier than most wet chemistry techniques. Plasma forms at ambient temperature and is non-hazardous, preserving the reliability of treated materials.

Harrick Plasma Cleaners are used in the fabrication of various 3D printed devices, including microfluidic devices, 3D printed organs, prostheses, and bottlebrush block copolymers.


Microfluidic device components can be manufactured directly with 3D printing, or indirectly by 3D printing PDMS molds. 3D printing of microfluidic devices is a relatively new method, with recent advances in resolution enabling microchannel printing. As a result, 3D printing is now employed to rapidly prototype organ-on-a-chip systems, cell imaging devices, and cell culture environments. While microfluidic devices are most often PDMS and glass based, researchers have begun using various thermoplastics. For example, biocompatible materials such as poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) resin can provide more optimal cell culture environments.

In addition to facilitating 3D printing, plasma cleaning is an essential step in the fabrication of PDMS microfluidic devices. Plasma enables water tight bonding of PDMS to glass or PDMS to PDMS. For more information on microfluidic device fabrication, visit our PDMS bonding page.

Below is a sample of papers that report using Harrick Plasma Cleaners on 3D printed microfluidic devices. 

Microfluidic Device & 3D Printing Articles

Su W, Li Y, Zhang L, Sun J, Liu S, and Ding X. “Typography-Like 3D-Printed Templates for the Lithography-Free Fabrication of Microfluidic Chips”. Sage Journals 2019 25: 82-87 https://doi.org/10.1177/2472630319867903   

Tsuda S, Jaffery H, Doran D, Hezwani M, Robbins PJ, Yoshida M, and Cronin L. “Customizable 3D printed ‘plug and play’ millifluidic devices for programmable fluidics”. PLoS One 2015 10: e0141640 10.1371/journal.pone.0141640  

Linden PJ, Popov AM, and Pontomi D. “Accurate and rapid 3D printing of microfluidic devices using wavelength selection on a DLP printer”. Lab on a Chip 2020 20: 4128-4140 https://doi.org/10.1039/D0LC00767F   

Kadilak AL, Rehaag JC, Harrington CA, and Shor LM. “A 3D-printed microbial cell culture platform with in situ PEGDA hydrogel barriers for differential substrate delivery”. Biomicrofluidics 2017 11: 54109 10.1063/1.5003477  

Warr C, Valdoz JC, Bickham BP, Knight CJ, Franks N, Chartrand N, Van Ry P, Christensen K, Nordin G, and Cook A. “Biocompatible PEGDA Resin for 3D Printing”. ACS Appl. Bio Mater. 2020 3: 2239-2244 https://doi.org/10.1021/acsabm.0c00055  

Tissue Engineering & Disease Models

3D printed biomimetic organs or tissues serve as disease models for the development of drugs and treatments. 3D printing is particularly advantageous because it recreates the complex geometry of an organ with precision. In vitro experiments using scaled-down models of human organs are less cumbersome and may yield more information than experiments with animal models or cellular disease models. Additionally, 3D printed drug testing systems are a potential alternative to animal testing. Harrick Plasma Cleaners render 3D printed organoids hydrophilic to mimic the hydrophilic environment of the body.    

 3D printed bioreactors can also be used to model the human body and introduce dynamic characteristics such as delivering media and shear stress. Polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds are plasma treated to become hydrophilic before being incorporated into 3D printed bioreactors. These hydrophilic scaffolds can support kidney cell survival and growth, allowing for the creation of more standardized scaffolds compared to conventional methods. Ultimately, these scaffolds in 3D printed bioreactors can serve as tissue engineering tools as well as disease models for drug development.       

 3D printing is not limited to internal organs. 3D printed maxillofacial prostheses are currently being studied as an alternative to the standard method of production, which is labor intensive and limits accessibility of these prostheses.    

Below is a sample of papers that report using Harrick Plasma Cleaners to fabricate 3D printed organs and scaffolds as biomimetic disease models.    

Tissue Engineering & Disease Model Articles

Tavana H. “Engineered 3D lung airway tree “. US10777324B2 (2017).  

Park JH, Cho D, Lee J, Park JY, Ahn MJ, Nam IC, Kim SW, Lee JY, Lee JW, Park SH, and Yun BG. “Three dimensional tracheal substitute replacing respiratory organs and method of producing the same”. US20200163747A1 (2017).   

Burton TP. “Scaffolds and signals: design and development of a 3D printed bioreactor and electrospun polymer scaffolds for kidney tissue engineering”, The University of Edinburgh 2019 https://era.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/35967     

Kumar A, Lau W, and Starly B. “Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Expansion on Three-Dimensional (3D) Printed Poly-Styrene (PS) Scaffolds in a Perfusion Bioreactor”. Procedia CIRP 2017 65: 115-120 10.1016/j.procir.2017.04.012  

Burgio F, Rimmer N, Pieles U, Buschmann J, and Beaufils-Hugot M. “Characterization and in ovo vascularisation of a 3D-printed hydroxyapatite scaffold with different extracellular matrix coatings under perfusion culture”. Biology Open 2018 10.1242/bio.034488  

Vicente FN, Massou S, Wetzel F, Mehidi A, Strehle D, Leduc C, Voituriez R, Rossier O, Nassoy P, and Giannone G. “A micromechanical cell stretching device compatible with super-resolution microscopy and single protein tracking”. Protocol Exchange 2020 10.21203/rs.3.pex-961/v1  

Drug Delivery

3D printing is also used in developing drug delivery methods. Recently, 3D printed miniaturized needle arrays (MNAS) were incorporated into the design of a transdermal drug delivery patch. Plasma treatment was important in adhering the needle arrays to the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) patch.

Drug Delivery Articles

Aghabaglou F. “Transdermal Drug Delivery Methods for Treatment of Chronic Skin Wounds”,  University of Lincoln Nebraska2020 https://www.proquest.com/openview/a90e3ec9b58f22d35081df10d74a71f0/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=51922&diss=y 

Composite Polymers

Another application of 3D printing is the fabrication of composite polymers with applications in highly conductive materials and color tunable patterned photonic crystals. Plasma cleaners are used to treat substrates on which the composite polymer printing process occurs, usually silicon wafers. Plasma treated silicon wafers are hydrophilic, improving 3D printing of bottlebrush block copolymers (BBCPs).   

Below is a sample of papers that report using Harrick Plasma Cleaners to fabricate composite polymers.   

Composite Polymer Articles

Patel BB, Walsh DJ, Kim DH, Kwok J, Lee B, Guironnet D, and Diao Y. “Tunable structural color of bottlebrush block copolymers through direct-write 3D printing from solution”. Science Advances 2020 6: eaaz7202 10.1126/sciadv.aaz7202   

Jo Y, Kim JY, Kim S-Y, Seo Y-H, Jang K-S, Lee SY, Jung S, Ryu B-H, Kim H-S, Park J-U, Choi Y, and Jeong S. “3D-printable, highly conductive hybrid composites employing chemically-reinforced, complex dimensional fillers and thermoplastic triblock copolymers”. Nanoscale 2017 9: 5072-5084 10.1039/C6NR09610G  

Harrick Plasma is a leading supplier of plasma equipment to the research community. We have been providing quality tabletop plasma devices specifically designed for laboratory and R&D use for over 30 years.