flypi 3d printed microscope
FlyPi 3d printed microscope

3D printing can create fantastic objects we’ve never seen before. It can also help create existing objects at a much, much lower cost — thereby democratizing them for an entirely new audience. This second ambition is what drives FlyPi, an ultra-low cost 3D-printed microscope and “behavioural arena” that allows biomedical researchers to closely observe species such as fruit flies, worms, and zebrafish — and all for a build cost of just 100 euros ($116).

Given that comparable lab equipment can cost thousands of dollars, this device is impressively affordable. Its creators describe it as a complete “neurogenetics lab.”

It consists of a 3D-printed frame fitted with off-the-shelf electronics, including a camera with powerful zoom objective, and a range of illumination options, as well as circuits for temperature control. Coupled with colored sheets of plastic as used in theater lighting, the system also allows for some simple forms of fluorescence microscopy.
Dr. Tom Baden, a neuroscientist at the U.K.’s University of Sussex, told Digital Trends.

Baden — who created FlyPi with André Maia Chagas from the University of Tubingen in Germany — said that the Raspberry Pi-powered creation is linked to advances in protein engineering and genetics that have taken place in the past couple decades. These have allowed for the expression of a wide array of molecular actuators and sensors in specific nerve cells of model species such as fruit flies.


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