The open-source design from Bath University gives schools, homes, and laboratories the ability to 3D-print their own precision microscopes. It can be used to analyze samples and identify diseases. About this writes Biomedical Optics Express.
The OpenFlexure microscope is a fully automated laboratory instrument with motorized sample positioning and focus control. It is unique among 3D printing microscopes in its ability to produce high-quality images. It is easy to use, with an intuitive software interface and simplified alignment procedures. It can be adapted for laboratory, school, and home.
Its design makes it more affordable than a conventional commercial microscope, both in terms of initial cost and equipment maintenance cost. A commercial microscope designed for laboratory use can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. An OpenFlexure microscope can be printed for $15-18 (this will cover the cost of printed plastic, camera, and some mounting hardware). Production of the top version will cost $250 and will include a microscope lens and an integrated Raspberry Pi computer.
“We want these microscopes to be used all over the world: in schools, research laboratories, clinics, and people’s homes, if they want a microscope just for the game. You should be able to take it and use it right away. It must be affordable!”
Dr. Joel Collins, one of the creators of the OpenFlexure Microscope
To date, more than 100 OpenFlexure microscopes have been printed in Tanzania and Kenya, demonstrating the viability of sophisticated equipment that is conceptualized in one part of the world and manufactured in another place.