What is a Diffusion Bonded Manifold?
A diffusion bonded manifold is a thermoplastic fluidic device that concentrates many fluid paths into a small space on a single part, providing many advantages when controlling the flow of fluids through an application. These manifolds, also referred to as a fluidic hub, fluidic circuit, or plastic flowcell, are manufactured from multiple layers of machined plastic, which are then bonded together through a proprietary process involving heat and pressure. The resulting diffusion bonded manifolds are a critical component of any fluidic application, allowing precise control of flow in a contamination-free environment while simultaneously reducing assembly time and service costs, yet improving reliability.
Design Flexibility For Diffusion Bonded Manifolds
Of the many advantages exhibited by a plastic diffusion bonded manifold, one of the most important has to be the ease of design flexibility. By utilizing multiple layers of material combined with precision machining, Piedmont CMG is capable of producing manifolds filled with intricate channels that control the flow of fluids through a device in almost any configuration required. These channels are milled directly into the bonded surface and retain their shape throughout the bonding process, so there is no need for inserting tubes or pipes to hold the desired channel shape. This equates to a reduction in parts, materials, weight, and cost.
Perhaps even more important for many modern applications is that the bonded channels will have no contamination from glues or solvents. Zero contamination is the perfect condition for applications such as medical, diagnostic, pharmaceutical, laboratory research, and clinical chemistry projects. In addition, almost all of the machining is done before the bonding process, so there is no risk of burrs or other defects being found within the channels.
Diffusion Bond & Material Strength
Another key advantage of using diffusion bonding is simply the strength of the bond itself. By exposing a material to heat and pressure over time, a bond can be created at the molecular level. The resulting permanent bond is uniform and difficult to detect with the naked eye. A diffusion bonded part will exhibit essentially all the same thermal and chemical resistance properties as the base polymer. This allows for tough manifolds that can withstand repeated autoclaving or exposure to various temperature ranges and chemicals without the need for coating or reinforcement. These functional advantages, plus the added aesthetic appeal of a uniform, transparent manifold, are why many OEMs are choosing diffusion bonding over other methods, such as solvent bonding.