CRAFT Device Foundry at U of T ushers in a new era of microfluidic device manufacturing
The Fluidic Technologies Research and Applications Center (CRAFT) – a partnership between the University of Toronto and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – has inaugurated a new research facility on the St. George campus of the ‘University of Toronto.
The Device Foundry will bring together researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and industry collaborators to advance the manufacture of micro-nanofluidic devices. Housing equipment to support large-scale production of biomedical devices, the facility has the capacity to rapidly commercialize new technologies in healthcare.
âThe opening of the new device foundry marks an important milestone for CRAFT,â said Axel guenther, professor of mechanical engineering at the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering and co-director of CRAFT.
âMany people from the University of Toronto and NRC have come together to make this unique space a reality. With the launch of this open research facility, we are now well positioned to advance the field of microfluidics and serve as a hub for collaborations that will bring innovative technologies to the healthcare community. “
Iain Stewart, NRC President, toured the new facility this week with senior leaders and researchers from the University of Toronto, stopping to visit the lithography cleanroom, fabrication room and 3D printing station of the foundry of devices.
Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada, met with senior leaders and researchers from the University of Toronto (Photo by Dahlia Katz)
In his word of welcome, Christine allen, associate vice-president and vice-president of strategic initiatives, said the national center will leverage the multidisciplinary strengths of the University of Toronto and provide “unprecedented hands-on learning opportunities” for students and postdoctoral fellows.
Allen added that the investment “will translate into clinical device innovations and position Canada at the forefront of microfluidics.”
The device foundry is designed to rapidly produce and deploy polymer-based biomedical micro-devices, including organ-on-a-chip models of heart tissue and portable 3D skin printers. The installation includes a new micro-injection mold that will create thousands of microfluidic devices every hour, a micro-milling machine to create molds, a roll-to-roll polymer coater, several embossers, a laser cutter, a glass 3D printer and a nanometric 3D printer.
âThis space adds significant technological and scientific strengths to the research and development capacity of world-class microfluidic devices at NRC in Boucherville, Quebec.
âTogether, these two CRAFT laboratories will enable the development, deployment and clinical validation of new laboratory-on-a-chip systems manufactured in Canada. ”
Christine Allen, associate vice president and vice-provost, strategic initiatives, said the new facility will provide “unprecedented hands-on learning opportunities” (photo by Dahlia Katz)
The U of T has one of the largest microfluidic device research communities in the world with more than 50 researchers, including CRAFT co-responsible Milica Radish and Aaron Wheeler – both professors at the chemistry department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. The Boucherville NRC, meanwhile, has 40 scientists who contribute to research on micro-nano devices in areas such as diagnostics, precision medicine and cell therapy.
âThe hope is that the spirit of collaboration that has presided over the creation of CRAFT and this new space is reflected in the work that comes from it,â said Guenther. âThanks to NRC’s investment, we now have dedicated technical support to train students, maintain equipment, and help researchers and start-ups bring their devices directly to the communities that will use them.
Veres added, âCRAFT will help grow the medical device industry in Canada and support the discovery of new knowledge that can be translated into innovative, technology-driven products, processes and services. The Device Foundry will also provide a unique work-integrated learning environment and development opportunities for the workforce of the future, keeping our highly skilled staff in Canada.