Influence of Diamond-Like Carbon Coating on the Channel Deformation of Injection-Molded Microfluidic Chips during the Demolding Process

YL Wang and BY Jiang and MY Zhou and JC Chen and C Weng, POLYMERS, 12, 2914 (2020).

DOI: 10.3390/polym12122914

Injection molding is one of the main techniques for manufacturing microfluidic chips. As an important stage, the demolding process in injection molding will directly affect the quality of the functional unit of microfluidic chips (polymer microchannels), thus limiting the realization of its functions. In this study, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on the demolding process were carried out to investigate the influence of diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating on the channel deformation. The channel qualities of polystyrene (PS), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) and polycarbonate (PC) were analyzed after demolding with nickel (Ni) and DLC-coated mold inserts, respectively. In particular, the non-bonded interfacial interaction energy, elastic recovery and gyration radius of polymer molecular chains were further studied. The results showed that the non- bonded interfacial interaction energies could be significantly reduced by DLC-coating treatment on the mold insert. Moreover, common channel defects such as molecular chain separation, surface burrs and necking did not occur. The treatment of DLC coating could also significantly reduce the change in the gyration radius of polymer molecular chains, so the morphology of the polymer channel could be maintained well. However, the change in the elastic recovery of the polymer channel was increased, and the opening width became larger. In a word, DLC-coating treatment on the mold insert has great application potential for improving the demolding quality of injection-molded microfluidic chips.

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