How to Achieve High-Feature Density: Precision Injection Molding for Proteomics and Genomics

The fields of proteomics and genomics are rapidly evolving, driven by groundbreaking technologies and methodologies such as digital PCR (dPCR), droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), next-generation sequencing (NGS), and micro physiological systems. These advancements demand increasingly sophisticated and high-feature density products, pushing the boundaries of precision injection molding to support highly engineered solutions. At PDC, we understand the critical role that precise, high-quality components play in the success of our clients’ innovative applications. Stay tuned to learn more!

High-feature density refers to the presence of numerous, finely detailed features packed into a small area on a component. In the context of proteomics and genomics, high-feature density products are essential for applications that require precise fluid handling, accurate sample partitioning, and the integration of various functional elements within a compact footprint. These applications, such as dPCR and NGS, rely on devices with intricate microfluidic channels, wells, and other microstructures to perform at optimal efficiency and accuracy. The geometric consistency of these densely arranged features is directly connected to the successful sample partitioning in each application.  

A common misconception among customers is the difference between feature-size and feature-density. While feature-size pertains to the individual dimensions of a specific feature (e.g., the width of a microchannel or the diameter of a well), feature-density is about how many such features can be placed within a given area without compromising functionality. High-feature density implies a high concentration of small, precise features, which can significantly enhance the performance and capabilities of analytical devices. Understanding this distinction is crucial as optimizing feature density often requires more advanced design and manufacturing techniques compared to simply reducing feature size. 

The Surge in High-Feature Density Products 

The demand for high-feature density products in proteomics and genomics is driven by the need for greater accuracy, efficiency, and throughput in various analytical processes. For instance: 

  1. dPCR and ddPCR: 
    • These technologies require highly precise and consistent microfluidic devices to partition samples into thousands or millions of discrete reactions. The accuracy of these partitions directly impacts the reliability of quantitative results.
  2. Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS): 
    • NGS platforms rely on complex consumables with intricate features to manage fluidics and reaction conditions, enabling massive parallel sequencing.
  3. Micro Physiological Systems: 
    • These systems, often referred to as organ-on-a-chip, require detailed and finely tuned microenvironments to simulate human physiology accurately, demanding high-feature density to replicate the complexity of biological systems. 

Key Considerations for Injection Molding in High-Feature Density Applications 

Meeting the stringent requirements of high-feature density products involves addressing several critical considerations in the injection molding process: 

  1. Tooling Design and Fabrication: 
    • Precision and Accuracy: The tooling design must account for the high precision and accuracy required to produce micro-scale features consistently. This involves meticulous planning and advanced manufacturing techniques. 
    • Material Selection: The choice of materials for the tools must ensure durability and resistance to wear, given the high precision required over potentially millions of cycles. 
    • Complex Geometries: The capability to fabricate complex geometries is paramount. Advanced techniques such as micro-milling, laser machining, and EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) are often employed.
  2. Plastic Flow During Injection Molding: 
    • Flow Dynamics: Understanding the flow dynamics of plastic during the injection process is crucial. The material must flow into every fine feature without defects such as short shots or flash. 
    • Mold Design: The mold design must facilitate uniform flow and avoid issues such as warping or internal stresses. This includes precise control of temperature, pressure, and cooling rates. 
    • Simulation and Testing: Employing advanced simulation tools to predict flow behavior and identify potential issues before actual production can save time and reduce costs.
  3. Integration of Functional Components and Film Cover Plating: 
    • Early Integration: Considering the integration of functional components (such as electrodes or sensors) early in the design process can streamline manufacturing and improve product performance. 
    • Film Cover Plating: Incorporating film cover plating or other surface treatments can enhance functionality, such as improving optical clarity for imaging applications or providing necessary chemical resistance. 
    • Adhesion and Compatibility: Ensuring strong adhesion and compatibility between different materials used in the final product is vital. This requires careful selection of materials and surface preparation techniques. 

The Path Forward: Innovation and Collaboration 

As the demand for high-feature density products continues to grow, so does the need for innovation in precision injection molding. Collaboration with clients during the design phase allows us to better understand their specific needs and challenges, enabling us to deliver tailored solutions that meet their exact specifications. 

We are committed to investing in advanced technologies and methodologies to push the boundaries of what is possible in injection molding. This includes: 

  • Cutting-Edge Machinery: Utilizing state-of-the-art machinery capable of producing ultra-fine features with high repeatability. 
  • Advanced Materials: Exploring and adopting new materials that offer superior performance characteristics for specific applications in proteomics and genomics. 
  • Collaborative Innovation: Embracing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation to stay ahead of industry trends and deliver the highest quality products. 


The intersection of precision injection molding and high-feature density products for proteomics and genomics is a dynamic and challenging field. By focusing on key considerations such as tooling design and fabrication, plastic flow dynamics, and the early integration of functional components, we can meet the evolving demands of our clients and support their groundbreaking work.