3D-Printing of a Microscope

3-D model of FlyPi and the assembled FlyPi with single micromanipulator and light-emitting diode-ring module, diffusor, and Petri dish adapter. (Source: T. Baden)

Labora­tory equipment is one of the largest cost factors in neuro­science. However, many experiments can be performed with good results using self-assembled setups involving 3-D printed components and self-programmed elec­tronics. André Maia Chagas and Tom Baden from the Universities of Tübingen and Sussex present now “FlyPi”, a low-cost imaging and micro­scope system for research, training and teaching. The intri­cate equipment necessary for modern neuro­science experi­ments can easily cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of Euros when relying on commercially available solutions, confining top-level research and scien­tific training to well-endowed insti­tutes in rich countries.

“FlyPi” can perform many standard lab protocols, including light and fluores­cence micro­scopy, opto­genetics, thermo­genetics, and beha­vioural studies on small animals such as roundworms, fruit flies, zebra­fish larvae. The design is based on a 3-D printed framework holding a Raspberry Pi computer and camera, cheap LEDs for lighting and simple lenses, as well as optical and thermal control circuits based on Arduino, an open-source micro­controller. Taken together, the components cost less than 100 Euros for the basic system, and can be modified to suit the lab’s purposes. The FlyPi system provides modular, low-cost options for research and assembly, and instructions for use are made available free of charge via open-source platforms.

The develo­pers of the FlyPi system share a keen interest in spreading “open labware.” Together with Lucia Prieto Godino of the Uni­versity of Lausanne, the developers have taught courses in 3 D printing, program­ming and DIY lab equipment at univer­sities in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania. “Many insti­tutions around the world have little money to spend on costly equipment,” says Baden. “We think it is very important that neuro­scientific training and research open up to larger numbers of students and junior scientists. So we hope that, with open labware such as our FlyPi, we can offer a starting point.” (Source: PLoS)

Reference: A. M. Chagas et al.: The €100 lab: A 3D-printable open-source platform for fluorescence microscopy, optogenetics, and accurate temperature control during behaviour of zebrafish, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans, PLoS Biol 15, e2002702 (2017); DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002702

Link: Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany • School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom

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