The Field Guide to 3D Printing in Microscopy

Mario Del Rosario, Hannah S. Heil, Afonso Mendes, Vittorio Saggiomo, Ricardo Henriques (see publication in Journal )


The maker movement has reached the optics labs, empowering researchers to actively create and modify microscope designs and imaging accessories. 3D printing has especially had a disruptive impact on the field, as it entails an accessible new approach in fabrication technologies, namely additive manufacturing, making prototyping in the lab available at low cost. Examples of this trend are taking advantage of the easy availability of 3D printing technology. For example, inexpensive microscopes for education have been designed, such as the FlyPi. Also, the highly complex robotic microscope OpenFlexure represents a clear desire for the democratisation of this technology. 3D printing facilitates new and powerful approaches to science and promotes collaboration between researchers, as 3D designs are easily shared. This holds the unique possibility to extend the open-access concept from knowledge to technology, allowing researchers from everywhere to use and extend model structures. Here we present a review of additive manufacturing applications in microscopy, guiding the user through this new and exciting technology and providing a starting point to anyone willing to employ this versatile and powerful new tool.