Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DIY and save: A scientist's guide to making your own lab equipment

Date:
November 18, 2013
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Joshua Pearce has penned a how-to book on the open-source 3-D printing technology that could revolutionize how science is done all over the world.

Michigan Tech's Joshua Pearce made this lab jack with a 3D printer for about five dollars after pricing an off-the-shelf model at $1,000.
Credit: Joshua Pearce

Joshua Pearce is not one for understatement. "This is the beginning of a true revolution in the sciences," says the author of "Open-Source Lab." For cash-strapped researchers, he could be right.

Related Articles


His new book, published by Elsevier, is a step-by-step DIY guide for making lab equipment. The essential tools are a 3D printer, open-source software and free digital designs. "It's a guidebook for new faculty members setting up labs," he said. "With it, they can cut the cost by a factor of 10, or even 100 for research-grade equipment. Even in the classroom, we can do a $15,000 educational lab for $500."

In keeping with the open-source concept, parts of "Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs," will be freely available at different times on the Elsevier Store. Chapters one and two are free now.

Pearce, an associate professor at Michigan Technological University, began printing out lab equipment in earnest after a seminal moment, when he priced a lab jack at $1,000. "All it does is move things up and down," he said. Using a printer and open-source software, his team made a utilitarian replica for about five dollars.

Pearce hasn't looked back. On his desk is a dual-purpose gadget: it can measure water turbidity, like a nephelometer; and it can do chemical analysis based on color, like a colorimeter. "We've shoved two devices into one, and it's completely customizable," said Pearce. To buy them both with equivalent accuracy would have cost over $4,000. To make this hybrid on a 3D printer cost about $50 including the cost of an open-source microcontroller, sensors and LEDs.

Saving money is just the half of it. "This lets faculty have total control over their laboratory," he said. Because designs are fluid, "devices can evolve with your lab rather than become obsolete."

The technology goes beyond slashing costs; it can also result in better science, says Pearce. Replicating another researcher's work becomes much easier and cheaper. "Equipment designs can be shared as easily as recipes," he said. "Scientists from all over the world are contributing designs." And it may change the dynamic of graduate education. "We get a huge influx of students from China, India and Africa, in part because they have so few good labs," Pearce said. "If they could print their own equipment, they wouldn't have to leave their home to study unless they wanted to, and many more talented people could contribute to experimental science. We could have a truly global scientific community."

But for Pearce, perhaps the best thing about open-source 3D printing is the open-source part. Makers, as 3D printer aficionados are called, not only use designs posted on the Internet. They also post their own and provide feedback. "It creates positive scientific karma," he said. "You can share your ideas and get help from the community, and it speeds things up so much. It's like having a global R&D team dedicated to your work ."

"Open-Source Lab" is written for a wide audience, from novices to those who are "at one with the force of open source," who can skip the introductory material and get right to work printing their own equipment.

At the close of the Acknowledgements section, Pearce cautions the reader not to rely too heavily on existing designs. The whole point of open-source printing is to join the community and share, share, share. "If the hardware is not good enough for you or your lab, remember, it is free, so quit whining and make it better!"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. The original article was written by Marcia Goodrich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "DIY and save: A scientist's guide to making your own lab equipment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102245.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2013, November 18). DIY and save: A scientist's guide to making your own lab equipment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102245.htm
Michigan Technological University. "DIY and save: A scientist's guide to making your own lab equipment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102245.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) The first flight of Etihad Airways' long-awaited Airbus A380 superjumbo will take place later in December, the Abu Dhabi carrier said Thursday, also announcing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner route. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins