*Updated November 10, 2023
If you’ve spent time on our website, you have likely encountered the term “bonded manifold.”
But what exactly are those, and do you need one?
The field of fluidics often requires smaller components than other industries might need because they serve a unique and specific purpose. These include items such as handheld on-chip detection devices, nano-pumps for continuous drug delivery, and micro-propulsion for functions in the aerospace industry. As a result, bonded manifolds are the best way to address such challenges and provide superior miniature components.
What is a bonded manifold?
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.
Note: the typical configuration of a multi-layered bonded manifold is a layout of channels in two layers.
Some of these microfluidic devices have different features and channel sizes. Some are under 250 microns to achieve their intended outcome. Traditional multi-layer manifolds, which feature channel sizes greater than 250 microns, are generally classified as mesoscale fluidic devices.
Why you would want a bonded manifold?
Bonded manifolds offer a variety of advantages for applications in healthcare and the life science among several other industries. Commonly, applications in healthcare and life science typically need fluids to pass through a series of valves, reaction chambers, and other enclosed environments for analysis and other purposes, particularly on the cellular level. These bonded manifolds can contain hundreds of fluid channels in the smallest spaces to increase the likelihood of more accurate, precise, and predictable results.
For applications outside life science and healthcare, bonded manifolds can also simplify complex systems. Through replacing multiple tubes, pipes, and other components, bonded manifolds can streamline certain systems for easier installation and longer lifetimes. Many also find they can also integrate these manifolds more precisely into their respective devices in a "plug-and-play" manner. Most simply fit the manifold into their relevant device without much more hassle in installation.
Advantages of Bonded Manifolds
While not every challenge will call for a bonded manifold as its solution, we urge designers and engineers to consider them for the following reasons:
We offer near unlimited channel configurations.
Compared to multiple drilled manifolds and tubing, bonded manifolds reduce the number of parts, amount of material, weight, and price.
Manifolds offer precise flow control and improve reliability while reducing assembly time and service costs with a single part.
Keep everything in one module and in the smallest possible envelope to keep size manageable.
Get unrestricted length to channel diameters.
With little to no maintenance required for manifolds, these systems can run effortlessly.
Does a bonded manifold fit your project's needs?
Reach out to get started today!
What You Need To Know About Bonded Manifold Design
For multi-layer manifold designs, double-sided channels are generally the easiest to produce. However, as polymer materials can be stress-sensitive, we recommend full round channels as the best since they have better flow characteristics. In addition, feature spacing can be as low as 1 mm.
Two-layer manifolds can have very flexible channel layouts. However, 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, we at 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.
If you already have a design and want to give it a virtual test run, visit our partners at Flow Circuits. Their software gives engineers the ability to test in real time their fluidics design and save weeks on their project timelines.
Limitations to Fluidics Design
A few limitations exist on designing and machining bonded manifolds, but they can cause some issues if not addressed.
Limitations to projects that we work around:
Difficulty Sourcing Materials
Sometimes the options are limited to amorphous plastics.
Bonded manifolds are more expensive than drilled manifolds.
Requires Specialized Skills To Create
The process requires specialized engineering skills, which we provide.
How We Make Bonded Manifolds
We start by machining the source material into the exact configuration the client needs. Next, we bond those pieces 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. Generally, the channels are almost invisible and stand up to long-term use.
Why Do You Want A Bonded Manifold From Controlled Fluidics?
- Controlled Fluidics proudly has an ISO 9001:2015 registration, 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 inches.
- 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.
- We can machine threads on the bond line that will maintain their structural integrity through use and time.
- We have detailed experience creating specialized manifolds for several types of industries.
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.
Want to know more about bonded manifolds?
Need a bonded manifold for your project?
Get started with a no-obligation conversation today!