Microfluidics takes advantage as one of the leading approaches in areas like chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. The implementation of suitable flow control is highly essential for the development of the desired application; considering the operational requirements of microfluidics, two systems are the most widely implemented, the pressure control and syringe pump systems. In this small review, the user will find the strengths and weaknesses of both technologies and the best choices for the application field. Both techniques are in the market. However, they have fundamental differences that should be explained in detail.
What is a Pressure Control System?
These devices control pressure with a valve setup, most of them need a manual pressure regulator. Some of them come with a pressure pump there is no need for compressor/gas line, they come with control software and with a higher accuracy of 100 µbar. A key advantage is the manipulation of several fluids at the same time. It is also possible to use a vacuum during pumping. However, these devices need a feedback loop to control the flow and not just the pressure in the microfluidic device. The considerable amount of control makes the device more expensive than a syringe pump, and this price is only affordable if the user needs many channels at the same time. Nevertheless, if a big device is operated in a microfluidic regime the pressure/flow control is an excellent option.
Typically syringe pumps allow a faster experiment setup, and the Fusion 200 and Fusion 4000 provide flow stability through a continuous cycle mode the push-pull functionality with non-stop flow. Chemyx syringe pumps offer a wide range of flow rates in precise amounts especially for microfluidic operation with a minimum flow rate of 1.6 pL/min. Moreover, Fusion 4000 can work at 65 psi and Fusion 6000 at 135 psi which means that these pumps are adaptable to high pressure that many pressure control systems cannot achieve. The user can work with just one or two channels and as the price is more affordable having two syringe pumps is double. For 2495 USD this price allows you to perform several microfluidic experiments and is advantageous over the high cost of pressure control devices.
Finally, Chemyx syringe pumps offer the same advantages of microfluidic devices and are much easier to use with an easy setup and many research paper are discussed in the Chemyx site showing that these pumps are suitable for fundamental microfluidic studies.