Developing organ-on-a-chip concepts using bio-mechatronic design methodology

Biofabrication. 2017 May 26;9(2):025023. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/aa71ca.


Mechatronic design is an engineering methodology for conceiving, configuring and optimising the design of a technical device or product to the needs and requirements of the final user. In this article, we show how the basic principles of this methodology can be exploited for in vitro cell cultures-often referred to as organ-on-a-chip devices. Due to the key role of the biological cells, we have introduced the term bio-mechatronic design, to highlight the complexity of designing a system that should integrate biology, mechanics and electronics in the same device structure. The strength of the mechatronic design is to match the needs of the potential users to a systematic evaluation of overall functional design alternative. It may be especially attractive for organs-on-chips where biological constituents such as cells and tissues in 3D settings and in a fluidic environment should be compared, screened and selected. Through this approach, design solutions ranked to customer needs are generated according to specified criteria, thereby defining the key constraints of the fabrication. As an example, the bio-mechatronic methodology is applied to a liver-on-a-chip based on information extrapolated from previous theoretical and experimental knowledge. It is concluded that the methodology can generate new fabrication solutions for devices, as well as efficient guidelines for refining the design and fabrication of many of today's organ-on-a-chip devices.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices*
  • Liver / physiology
  • Microfluidics