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Diagnostics, indicators and active paper

Diagnostics are at the core of modern health care and key to our health and well-being. VTT offers capabilities for the entire healthcare diagnostics development chain: from biomarker research and recombinant antibody development to microfluidic platform design, optical and electronic reader development, and mass manufacturing of cost-effective combinations of emerging printed technologies.

Advances in printed diagnostics for life sciences

In healthcare, the development of printing technologies able to meet the needs of medical diagnostics is fuelling innovation in the life sciences, as it is in other fields. Environmental monitoring processes help manage quality control for everything from perishable goods to point-of-care (POC) solutions.

In life sciences, microfluidics (the control and manipulation of fluids in geometrically constrained micro-scale devices) have led to major advances in diagnostics, bioterrorism detection, and drug discovery. In these fields, the microfluidic approach reduces the sample volume and performance time of immunoassays, and also furnishes benefits such as miniaturisation, integration, and automation.

Among other capabilities, printed diagnostic products can help sense the environment or the quality of perishable goods. Such capabilities will become more important in ensuring greater human safety and well-being as growing urbanization and globalization continue apace. Growing environmental awareness and rising material and energy costs imply an urgent need to minimize waste. One of the ways to achieve this goal is through the improved handling of perishable goods, both in terms of quality control and ultimate usage.

Roll-to-Roll printing for mass manufacturing and rapid prototyping

VTT’s expertise in roll-to-roll manufacturing facilitates a cost-effective and high-volume approach to the manufacture of diagnostic products. It also enables better design of test products, as demonstrated by the emergence of numerous prototypes integrating this very production method.

Cost savings can be derived from materials and production methods. A case in point, paper is an order of magnitude cheaper than other materials, and printing processes are considerably faster than many of today’s manufacturing methods. Reducing costs allows for disposability of the tests, which in turn enables product and process innovation in health care and wellbeing.

What’s more, the use of printing processes raises new possibilities with regards to the design of diagnostics and sensing products. Tests can be designed for ease of use when sampling or reading results, for example. Together with the potential for extremely high-volume production, design versatility helps to open up opportunities for the diagnostics industry in completely new application areas.

Our key services for diagnostics include:

  • roll–to-roll manufacturing and prototyping of microfluidic devices
  • printing of reagents directly to various low cost substrates
  • development of readout instrumentation.