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July 2007
Micro fluidics in industry


The number of applications for chemical reactions in need of better temperature control and residence time control is significantly raising. Providing these features, micro fluidic tools became more attractive, not only in science and development but also in industrial synthesis of fine chemicals. The complexity of these tools is getting higher and higher. Micro fluidic tools have evolved into complex "micro reactors", which are more than a simple micro mixer or residence time tool. They include different mixers, heat transceivers and interfaces for measuring and controlling. The aim of this development is the substitution of classical facilities to get a higher efficiency by keeping the same output.

It was crucial for this reason, that the manufacturing of small fluid guiding structures needs to be improved strongly. Additionally it became necessary to create different options regarding material and features of the micro fluidic tools. The spectrum includes tools made of steel, polymer, ceramic, silicon and different types of glass.

Glass, the traditional and most common material for chemical and biological applications covers the biggest part of the micro fluidic market. The chemical resistance and the high temperature stability of up to 1,100 degree C is predestined for this application.

Little Things Factory (LTF) in Germany, an associate company of Plan Optik AG structures glass, silicon and ceramics in a very smart way using a modified sandblasting process, called "micro sandblasting". These structured, semi finished products are assembled by thermal fusion bonding or other technologies to create complete micro reactors. The development of complete micro reactors creates a lot of connection possibilities which all can be realized by Little Things Factory - even connection threads in glass.

Customized micro reactors include measuring and inspection features for the chemical processes inside the reactors as an option. Little Things Factory provides tools for temperature control, pressure control, pH-value control, conductivity measurements and determining optical properties. This software is a stand alone product and offers the creation of recipes at any computer, transmitting the recipes and to observe the process via LAN and the world wide web.

Little Things Factory is promoting this technology especially in education and science. Those special micro reactors indicate all features of a regular micro reactor and can be used in almost all existing infrastructures of laboratories.

More detailed information can be found at www.ltf-gmbh.com.