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A 3D-printed microfluidic-enabled hollow microneedle architecture for transdermal drug delivery

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Embedding microfluidic architectures with microneedles enables fluid management capabilities that present new degrees of freedom for transdermal drug delivery. To this end, fabrication schemes that can simultaneously create and integrate complex millimeter/centimeter-long microfluidic structures and micrometer-scale microneedle features are necessary. Accordingly, three-dimensional (3D) printing techniques are suitable candidates because they allow the rapid realization of customizable yet intricate microfluidic and microneedle features. However, previously reported 3D-printing approaches utilized costly instrumentation that lacked the desired versatility to print both features in a single step and the throughput to render components within distinct length-scales. Here, for the first time in literature, we devise a fabrication scheme to create hollow microneedles interfaced with microfluidic structures in a single step. Our method utilizes stereolithography 3D-printing and pushes its boundaries (achieving print resolutions below the full width half maximum laser spot size resolution) to create complex architectures with lower cost and higher print speed and throughput than previously reported methods. To demonstrate a potential application, a microfluidic-enabled microneedle architecture was printed to render hydrodynamic mixing and transdermal drug delivery within a single device. The presented architectures can be adopted in future biomedical devices to facilitate new modes of operations for transdermal drug delivery applications such as combinational therapy for preclinical testing of biologic treatments.

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