Amber-colored bonded manifold created from ultem plastic

What is a Bonded Manifold?

If you’ve spent time on our website, you are likely to encounter the term “bonded manifold.” But what exactly are those, and do you need one? 

The field of fluidics, like electronics, requires smaller and smaller components.  These are items such as hand-held on-chip detection devices, nano-pumps for continuous drug delivery, and micro-power generators, and micro-propulsion for the aerospace industry. These microfluidic devices typically have features and channel sizes under 250 microns. As a result, bonded manifolds are the best way to address such challenges and provide superior miniature components.  

Bonded manifolds contain channels that transport liquids or gases through spaces with no room for valves, hoses, and fittings. They are created from individual layers of plastic with milled fluid channels. The layers are seamlessly fused (or “bonded”) using heat, time, and pressure to form a single piece. External machining completes the manifold by adding porting and mounting holes.

Why Do You Want a Bonded Manifold?

Bonded manifolds offer a variety of advantages for applications in healthcare and the life sciences. They can contain hundreds of fluid channels in the smallest spaces and thus are ideally suited to applications where fluids must pass through a series of valves, reaction chambers, etc.

You can simplify complex systems by replacing multiple tubes, pipes, connectors, and other components with a single manifold.  They can also be precisely integrated into their respective devices in a plug-and-play manner. Just fit the manifold into the relevant device, and you’re ready to go.

How We Make Bonded Manifolds

We start by machining the source material into the exact configuration the client needs. Next, the pieces are bonded together into one solid piece using the appropriate pressure, heat, and time. Then, we finish the manifold by placing mounting and porting holes using external machining techniques.   

Our low-pressure bonded channels keep their shape under pressures of up to 150 psi. The channels are almost invisible and can be relied on permanently.   

As a team, our engineers have over 60 years of combined experience producing and delivering products able to stand up to the most stressful environments, including high heat and caustic chemical exposure.

Why Do You Want A Bonded Manifold From Controlled Fluidics?

  • Controlled Fluidics is ISO 9001:2015 registered and we adhere to ANSI/ASQ Z 1.4 AND ANSI/NCSL Z 540-1-1994.  
  • We are able to bond injection-molded manifold halves with strength equivalent to the source material.   
  • We provide both large reservoirs and tolerances as close as 0.015”.   
  • We produce full round channel configurations for best volume and flow. Single-sided “D” channels are available if desired.  
  • We machine channels that do not crack or warp under stress.   
  • Controlled Fluidics is able to machine threads on the bond line that will maintain their structural integrity through use and time.

Advantages of Bonded Manifolds

  • Design flexibility: Controlled Fluidics offers unlimited channel configurations. 
  • Lower total cost of ownership: Compared to multiple drilled manifolds and tubing, bonded manifolds reduce the number of parts, amount of material, weight, and price. 
  • Reduced complexity and component count: You can enjoy precise flow control and improve reliability while reducing assembly time and service costs with a single part. 
  • Complete system integration in one module and the smallest possible envelope. 
  • Unrestricted length to channel diameters. 
  • Zero maintenance.

Bonded Manifold Technology

Manifolds designed by our team of experts align with the current trend towards today’s drive toward smaller, tighter devices. For multi-layer manifold designs, double-sided channels are generally the easiest to produce. However, as polymer materials can be stress-sensitive, full round channels are best since they have better flow characteristics. In addition, feature spacing can be as low as 1mm. 

Two-layer manifolds can have very flexible channel layouts. More complicated manifolds will need special channel layout provisions. Thus, it is important to consider design complexity. Frequently, two less complicated, two-layer manifolds perform better than a single three or four-layer manifold.

However, production fallout rates, design challenges, and bonding complexity can significantly increase the price as the number of layers grows. There is theoretically no limit to the number of layers, although strong practical limitations exist. 

For design engineers with limited experience in manifold layout, creating an efficient configuration can be daunting. Variables—including material choice, channel size and placement, and valve and fitting selection—can add complexity. Whether your design is micro or macro, Controlled Fluidics can consult with your design team throughout the design process. As a result, we can help you find the best possible design solution while keeping your budget in mind.

Different Approaches to the Design Process with Controlled Fluidics

There are few limitations on designing and machining bonded manifolds, but they do exist.    

Limitations to projects that we work around:

  • It can be more difficult to source materials. Sometimes the options are limited to amorphous plastics. 
  • Bonded manifolds are more expensive than drilled manifolds.   
  • The process requires specialized engineering skills, which we provide.

How To Get A Quote

  • Work out your design. For less complicated, two-layer layouts, you know your working parameters best. 
  • Provide the preliminary layout. Our staff will help you fine-tune it. As a bonus, you and your team gain experience you can use on future design work.  
  • Provide a schematic. We will develop the layout given your working envelope and component selection. 
  • Select your components and working envelope. We develop a complete design for your manifold with all inputs and outputs. 

We offer efficient production and delivery as well as competitive pricing.  Expect 4-6 weeks for prototypes and 8-10 weeks for production of finished items.

Need a bonded manifold for your project? Contact the experts at Controlled Fluidics.