Skyphos Technologies

Hidden costs of PDMS

What does a chip cost?

On average, it is assumed that a PDMS chip costs about $1, but is this the true cost? $1 doesn't include mask and master charges,  wait time, overhead for keeping the lights on at the lab, technician time, specialized chemicals and dedicated lab space to perform SU-8 or clean-room time.  It certainly doesn't account for these time losses compounded over several development phases to get to publication or trials.  It doesn't account for mistakes of positive/negative masks, or the difficulty and failure rates assembling multi-layer chip. Below is a comparison between Skyphos, in-house, and a PDMS service.

When moving to a service, the project undertaken by the lab is idle. This time adds up, you have to keep the lights on, the employees paid, machines in working order. Skyphos offers the lowest downtime of any service. So what about if you already have the molds and are just making replicas?

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In the case of making devices from molds already available, the win is getting devices faster. The trade-off is that these devices will be constructed from PDMS. When moving towards a launch or possible IP strategy, Skyphos offers and advantage in that the devices being tested will be exactly the same as the final product. Moving to Skyphos earlier will allow faster results in the long run - ie the next design iteration.

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*Note: PDMS Replica represents the situation where the lab already has a mold set ready for use. In the case where a new mold set needs to be created, Skyphos delivers a better value than using in-house labor. You do science, Skyphos does service.

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Cost per chip made easy:

Skyphos makes it easy, and fast. Drop the 6 week lead-time and test your idea the same week. 

For an order quantity of 10 of multi-layer devices the ROI moves to Skyphos,

even if you have a set of molds ready and waiting in the lab.

At the outset, it appears PDMS in-house fabrication may be cheaper. However take a look at the length of time it takes to deliver product. Most of our customers find the sweet-spot to switch to Skyphos when they will be fabricating more than 10 chips in-house - even if they already have the molds.


“ You do science, Skyphos does service.”

Hidden costs of PDMS:

Time & Money

  • Each refinement costs on average: 6 weeks and $600 per layer

  • Each chip takes about 1-1.5 hours per layer to cure, assemble and port

  • Multi-layer designs add complexity, time, and failure opportunities

  • The process and applicable materials place limits on aspect ratios, (base:height is 1:2)

  • 2D extrusion-based designs limit surface area and signal to noise

  • Molds for hot embossing and hot injection can be as much as $80k per layer

  • Moving to hot-embossing or injection molding intoduces new materials often requiring further confirmation experiments

  • Progressing to final designs can cost 12 months in time, and $250,000+ in added costs


Comparing Skyphos to hot embossing & injection molding

No question. Skyphos has the advantage when you want to go to market. 
From no mold costs and a go-to-market advantage, we are ready.