• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 5 (2020)

Testing of Beeswax Printing Technology in the Design of a Paper-Based Microfluidic System

Testing of Beeswax Printing Technology in the Design of a Paper-Based Microfluidic System

Title: Testing of Beeswax Printing Technology in the Design of a Paper-Based Microfluidic System
Immanuel Nunut, Yudan Whulanza, Samuel Kassegne

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Cite this article as:
Nunut, I., Whulanza, Y., Kassegne, S., 2020. Testing of Beeswax Printing Technology in the Design of a Paper-Based Microfluidic System. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(5), pp. 1036-1045

Immanuel Nunut Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Yudan Whulanza 1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia 2. Research Center for Biomedical Engineering (RCBE), Universitas Indon
Samuel Kassegne Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering San Diego State University, CA 92182, United States
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Testing of Beeswax Printing Technology in the Design of a Paper-Based Microfluidic System

The development of additive manufacturing technologies has the advantage of producing more economical and efficient products. This trend is supported by the fact that this technology is extensively developed, so that it has easy platforms to use, vast applications, and is more economically affordable than it was when it was first created in the early 90s. Currently, this technology is also widely applied in the bioengineering field to produce so called micro-scale products. In this study, a beeswax printer was developed by modifying a universal 3D printer to apply beeswax as a microchannel part on paper. Ultimately, this application shall be used for paper lab-on-a-chip (LOC) that enables us to perform specific functions, such as biological detection. However, a thorough study is needed to understand the limitations of this beeswax printer, along with the characterization of its product. Here, an experiment was conducted to find the optimum conditions of the system with two main parameters, namely the heating characteristics and flowability of the molten beeswax during the printing process. Additionally, an analytical model was also developed to validate the phenomena of this advanced printing media. Briefly, the beeswax printer allowed us to have a fine profile in the range of 0.5–2.0 mm wide and 30–150 µm thick. This research allowed us to find the desired profile of printed beeswax.

Additive manufacturing; Beeswax; Microchannel; Paper LOC; 3D printer


Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a device that integrates a series of laboratory processes on a chip to perform a specific task, such as pathogen detection, via serology or molecular identification (Oh, 2012; Jung et al., 2014; Luka et al., 2015). It can facilitate clinical measures, such as to filtrate/separate raw material, transport chemical reagents, perform a reaction, and detect biochemical results (Lim et al., 2010; Takenaga, 2015). It has small dimension so that this device can be easily transported. Because of its small size, it requires smaller specimens and reagents for its operation, i.e. microfluidic system (Ho et al., 2015; Lafleur et al., 2015). Thus, it has a much cheaper operational cost compared to conventional systems.

Microfluidic system are fabricated by etching or molding glass, silicone, acrylics, or other polymer types (Romao et al., 2017; Economou et al., 2018). In general, the polymer material is easily produced and performs well (Whulanza et al., 2017a, 2018a, 2019; Phadke et al., 2018; Renatan et al., 2020). However, paper-based lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is the latest innovation, with the advantage of a low fabrication cost (Martinez et al., 2010; Ballerini et al., 2012; Costa et al., 2014). This can be done by using hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts to control liquid regimes at an efficient cost (Zhang et al., 2013; Xue et al., 2017). This tuning of a paper surface can be easily realized by using a wax material as designed by Lee et al. (2019) and Kim and Noh (2018).

Fluidic channels can be patterned using wax screen printing (Dungchai et al., 2011) and dipping the object directly on the specimen (Songjaroen et al., 2011). Screen printing and spray methods have also been used to create a wax channel (Juang et al., 2017; Liu et al., 2017). A recent study also showed the role of additive manufacturing in wax coatings (Yamada et al., 2015).

An additive manufacturing platform, or 3D printer, has been widely used in deploying material through nozzles with various driving forces, such as pneumatic, piston, and motor movement (Naghieh et al., 2017). Thus, it enables us to deposit any material required, such as polymer filaments, hydrogel, ceramic, or composites of these substances (Whulanza et al., 2017b; Syuhada et al., 2018; Roopavath et al., 2019). Moreover, wax has also been used as a material in printing (Lu et al., 2009; Carrilho et al., 2009). However, further testing and characterization has yet to be applied to LOC fabrication (Xue et al., 2017).

This report explains the characterization of printed beeswax on a filter paper to be used as a microchannel. The measurements showed that optimum parameters achieved by our home-made wax printer inspired by batik printing art. Furthermore, an analytical model was demonstrated to approach the experimental results of printed wax. Ultimately, the wax channel was shown to be functionally resistant to liquid water adsorption. 


The beeswax printer was successfully tested and thoroughly observed. The main task of this home-made device was to create microchannels as the main part of paper lab-on-a-chip. The microchannel was formed by printed beeswax that needs to allow the flow of a liquid specimen without further spillage outside of the required line. Therefore, it is important to understand the operating parameters of the beeswax printer to deliver quality. Here, it can be reported that heating temperature of beeswax materials in the device was 60–80°C and a layer rate of 11–90 mm/s. The device was able to produce printed wax 0.5–2.0 mm wide and 30–150 µm thick. An analytical model was also introduced to validate the experimental results and shall be beneficial for further research.


  This research was supported by the Kemristek BRIN PUPT 2020 with Contract Number: NKB-2872/UN2.RST/HKP.05.00/2020.

Supplementary Material
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