Printing a real microscope at home is possible!

Researchers have developed an open source, 3D printable laboratory microscope for less than 17 euros. Objective: to make science accessible to the general public and to institutions with few resources. 3D printing is playing an increasingly important role in the healthcare system, providing emergency equipment quickly and at low cost.

Anyone can soon become a researcher in biology , thanks to the microscope developed by engineers at the University of Bath, in the United Kingdom. They imagined a microscope printed in 3D and available for just 17 euros. Fully automated, it allows you to observe objects of a hundred nanometers , the size of a virus like that of the flu . Called OpenFlexure, the device was designed to be easy to use, with an intuitive software interface and simplified alignment procedures.

Described in the journal  Biomedical Optics Express , the OpenFlexure microscope is especially advantageous for its cost: barely 15 pounds sterling (about 17 euros), where scientific microscopes are sold for more than ten thousand euros. This price includes the cost of the printed plastic , the smartphone camera lens and the fasteners. Its creators have also developed a more elaborate version including a real microscope objective and an integrated Raspberry Pi computer , achievable for “a  few hundred euros “.

A printable microscope in a few hours for developing countries

”  We want to make these microscopes accessible to schools, research laboratories, private clinics and for the general public who wish to discover science, ” says Joel Collins, co-creator of the microscope and physics researcher at the University of Bath. More than 100 microscopes have been printed some of which were used in Tanzania and Kenya for the detection of malaria .

Doctors were able to detect the protozoan  Plasmodium falciparum in blood samples, allowing rapid diagnosis and better management of patients in hospitals. ”  Our Tanzanian partners, STICLab, have modified the design of the microscope to better adapt it to their local market, thus demonstrating another major advantage of our open source equipment : the ability to personalize, improve and appropriate a product “, congratulates Richard Bowman, another co-creator.