Teams schools and educational centers with the instruments suitable for laboratories It's something that it is very expensive. This fact represents an obstacle to teaching for those centers that do not have the necessary resources to do so. Most of the schools around the world do not have access to scientific equipment that can be used for teaching, training and research.
Now, however, thanks to a study by researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, a low-cost alternative using 3D printing and microcomputers.
The research project, which was recently published in the journal Plos Biology, details how a team of neuroscientists was able to use 3D printing and microcomputers to create a low-cost microscope and imaging system that could be deployed in schools and laboratories around the world. .
Called FlyPi, the project is completely open source and can be done for as little as € 100 ($ 116). Compared to standard laboratory equipment, which can cost more than thousands of dollars.
El FlyPic incorporates a series of 3D printed parts, a Raspberry Pi microcomputer and a number of low-cost electronic circuitssuch as LEDs and webcams. Once assembled, it can be used for different laboratory applications, including optogenetics (control of cells with light), behavioral studies for small animals (fruit flies, zebrafish larvae, for example).
Tom Baden, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex, and André Maia Chagas, lead author of the study, explained: 'You just have to visit a lot of the universities in the African continent, to see that the equipment of the centers is deficient. There are microscopes, but there are many more people than microscopes «.
El project still is in a early phase and further development is needed to find which parts of a microscope and imaging system could be swapped out for cheaper parts and ultimately they found that things like LEDs and webcams could work in place of the more expensive traditional parts.
When designing the FlyPi, the scientists were inspired by the Maker community, which has been using 3D printing, microcontrollers and microcomputers as resources for years. This philosophy has allowed the creation of many low-cost alternatives to expensive devices and tools.
Baden and his team also chose to keep their fully open investigation, which means that almost anyone can replicate your microscope model. "It's a community-driven effort," he said. The more people participate, the better designs we will get.