Sony DADC wins Löhn Award for advancing microfluidics manufacturing

14 November 2011

The Stuttgart-based Steinbeis Foundation, a global technology transfer company, has awarded their 2011 Löhn Award to Sony DADC BioSciences for the transfer of highly dynamic variothermal (HDV) technology to Sony DADC in Anif, Austria.

The Löhn Award has been awarded annually since 2004, in honour of Prof Dr Dr h c mult Johann Löhn, who was instrumental in the technology transfer aspect of the Steinbeis Company.

Reflecting that theme, the Löhn Award recognises outstanding projects that see the transfer of competitive technology and knowledge between science and business. Winning projects also have to have demonstrated effective collaboration and management as well as producing results with potential for industry applications.

Sony DADC’s award-winning project focused on addressing some of the challenges in the increasingly popular area of microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies. The potential of these technologies in medical science is enormous, but the price of the chips is holding back some research.

The exacting standards of the equipment cause production techniques to be complex and costly, with the single-use nature of the equipment further adding to this. Cost-effective mass manufacturing of these components is central to seeing the potential of this technology maximised by a variety of different areas within the bioscience and pharmaceutical industries.

Working with Watlow, a company designing and manufacturing thermal solutions, and the Steinbeis Transfer Centre for Plastics, Sony DADC BioSciences have refined the manufacturing process for these plastic chips, using injection moulding, to great effect. Using the thermal expertise of Watlow, they were able to achieve the rigorous standards expected of the chip’s performance by controlling the temperature — highly dynamic variothermal (HDV) — during the injection moulding process. This solution could be utilised successfully in a commercial environment by Sony DADC, incorporating it into large-scale production.

“We are proud of the work we have achieved with Watlow and Steinbeis and very honoured to receive this award in recognition of our collaborative partnership and technological advancements,” said Dr Christoph Mauracher, Senior Vice President at Sony DADC BioSciences. “By addressing the central challenge of chip manufacture through our collaboration, we are now closer to being able to offer it as a commercially viable solution for the industry.”

This collaborative project began in 2009, and allowed the sharing of specialist knowledge in commercial microfluidic chip production, thermal control and the properties of plastic areas between Sony DADC, Watlow and Steinbeis respectively.


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