Revolutionizing Digital PCR and Droplet Digital PCR through Advanced Injection Molding

As a leading precision injection molding company dedicated to driving innovation in the Life Sciences sector, we are pleased to share our expertise and commitment to supporting advancements in Digital PCR (dPCR) and Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) in this technical post. At PDC, we recognize the critical role that precision engineering plays in pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this transformative journey. 


Digital PCR and Droplet Digital PCR have emerged as indispensable tools in molecular biology, offering unparalleled sensitivity, accuracy, and reproducibility. Both technologies benefit rarer nucleic target detection by partitioning a small sample aliquot into thousands of smaller partitions. Droplet digital PCR often uses an immiscible mixture of oil and aqueous to form separate droplets. Digital PCR also uses a partitioning technique, often nano wells which are formed within microscopic microfluidic channels. Both technologies enable absolute quantification at a molecular level of the target nucleic acid. As the demand for these technologies continues to grow, so does the need for high-quality, custom-designed components that can optimize instrument performance and ensure reliable results. 

Products and Applications: 

  1. Microfluidic Chips: Droplet Digital PCR surpasses the performance of earlier digital PCR techniques by resolving the previous lack of scalable and practical technologies for digital PCR implementation. Serial dilution is laborious and introduces the possibility of pipetting error; competing chip-based systems rely on complex fluidics schemes for partitioning. Droplet Digital PCR addresses these shortcomings by massively partitioning the sample in the fluid phase in one step. The creation of tens of thousands of droplets means that a single sample can generate tens of thousands of data points rather than a single result, bringing the power of statistical analysis inherent in digital PCR into practical application. At PDC we specialize in precisely manufacturing microfluidic chips to form droplet digital PCR partitioning. Our experience in microfluidics enables rapid product development for ddPCR technology. 
  2. Nano Wells: Our expertise in micro-molding enables us to produce intricate nanoarrays with exceptional precision, facilitating precise nucleic acid partitioning. Furthermore, amplification of the PCR reaction using thermal cycling and fluorescent detection and quantification occurs in the same reaction vessel. Collaboration with leading life sciences companies continues to enable the development of novel digital PCR designs with enhanced sensitivity in detecting rare genetic mutations for critical diseases such as cancer. The benefit of nano wells over other digital PCR techniques, such as droplet-based technologies is the uniform partitioning of each sample, ensuring accurate quantification of target nucleic acids.  
  3. Thermal Cycling Blocks: We design and manufacture thermal cycling blocks with optimal thermal conductivity and dimensional stability, enabling precise temperature control during PCR amplification. Our thermally stable blocks ensure uniform heating and cooling across the reaction wells, minimizing variability and maximizing assay reproducibility. Collaboration with research institutions is primarily focused on thermally optimized cycling blocks that reduce thermal gradients within reaction wells, leading to improved PCR efficiency and assay reproducibility. 
  4. Sample Loading Cartridges: Our custom-designed sample loading cartridges offer seamless integration with dPCR instruments, providing efficient and reliable sample loading for high-throughput applications. With features such as precise channel geometry and smooth surface finish, our cartridges facilitate effortless sample handling and minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, both established and early stage, includes the development of novel sample loading cartridge designs to improve sample loading efficiency, enabling faster turnaround times for large-scale genotyping studies. 
  5. Alignment Fixtures: Precise alignment of optical components is essential for accurate signal detection in dPCR and ddPCR systems. Recent innovations in alignment fixture design have focused on enhancing precision and stability to ensure optimal signal detection and data accuracy. There has been an increased interest for precision alignment fixtures that facilitate accurate positioning of optical components in dPCR and ddPCR systems to enable precise alignment of lasers, detectors, and optics, ensuring optimal signal detection and data accuracy. 

Insights and Key Considerations: 

Precision injection molding plays a crucial role in the advancement of proteomics and genomics applications by enabling the production of intricate components with high accuracy and consistency. The following key considerations are essential for leveraging precision injection molding effectively: 

  1. Material Selection: The choice of materials in precision injection molding is paramount, especially in proteomics and genomics applications where chemical compatibility and purity are critical. Opting for medical-grade polymers such as polypropylene, polystyrene, or cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) ensures biocompatibility and minimal interference with molecular interactions. Additionally, considering factors like optical and fluorescent transparency, sterilizability, and resistance to chemicals and solvents is vital to meet the stringent requirements of these applications. 
  2. Design Optimization: Design optimization plays a pivotal role in enhancing the performance and functionality of components in proteomics and genomics devices. Collaborating closely with design engineers and leveraging advanced modeling and simulation tools can help identify potential issues early in the design phase, thereby minimizing costly iterations and ensuring optimal manufacturability. Features such as microfluidic channels, precision-molded threads, and intricate geometries must be carefully designed to facilitate efficient sample handling, fluid flow, and analytical sensitivity. 
  3. Tight Tolerance Control: Tight tolerance control in precision injection molding controls the dimensional accuracy and reproducibility of microfluidic devices and analytical instruments used in proteomics and genomics research. Scientific molding and process validation methodologies like Design of Experiments (DOE) enables precise control over critical parameters such as temperature, pressure, and injection speed, thereby minimizing variations and enhancing the reliability of the final product. 
  4. Surface Finish and Biocompatibility: Controlling the surface finish of molded components in proteomics and genomics prevents sample contamination, protein adsorption, and nucleic acid binding. Surface treatments such as plasma activation, chemical etching, or coatings with low surface energy materials ensure optimal surface energy, reduced protein adsorption, and enhanced biocompatibility. Compliance with regulatory standards such as ISO 10993 for biocompatibility testing is essential to validate the suitability of molded components for use in sensitive biological assays and diagnostic devices.  
  5. Scalability and Cost Efficiency: Scalability and cost efficiency are key considerations in the development and production of precision-molded components for proteomics and genomics applications. Automation, robotics, multi-cavity molds, and high-speed injection molding enables high-volume production while minimizing production costs and lead times. Additionally, partnering with experienced contract manufacturers specializing in medical device manufacturing and injection molding provides access to expertise, resources, and economies of scale necessary to meet the growing demands of the life sciences industry. 


As leaders in precision injection molding, we are committed to driving innovation and empowering life sciences companies to push the boundaries of scientific research. By carefully considering factors such as material selection, design optimization, tolerance control, surface finish, and scalability, manufacturers can ensure the reliability, performance, and regulatory compliance of molded components, thereby advancing research and innovation in the field of life sciences. Through our customized solutions for Digital PCR and Droplet Digital PCR, we strive to enable breakthrough discoveries and advancements in molecular biology.