For years, universities have struggled to find ways to move
esoteric technologies from the lab to the commercial sector.
Now, scientists at UC Merced have begun to grapple with
another problem: how to move technology from the toy shop into the lab.
Chemical & Engineering News has a
little article explaining how a new professor began using
Shrinky Dinks to make molds for microfluidic devices.
Apparently, the usual photolithography rigs are expensive,
and take time to set up. But it turns out that it is possible
to print a pattern on a sheet of Shrinky-Dink thermoplastic, using an
ordinary laser printer. In some cases, the results are better
than what was obtained using conventional means.
The shrunken Shrinky Dinks replace
commonly used silicon wafer molds, which must be made by
photolithographic patterning … The thermoplastic molds are faster and
cheaper to make than are ones made with standard photolithography.