The Field Guide to 3D Printing in Optical Microscopy for Life Sciences

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 create and modify microscope designs and imaging accessories. 3D printing has a disruptive impact on the field, improving accessibility to fabrication technologies in additive manufacturing. This approach is particularly useful for rapid, low-cost prototyping, allowing unprecedented levels of productivity and accessibility. From inexpensive microscopes for education such as the FlyPi to the highly complex robotic microscope OpenFlexure, 3D printing is paving the way for the democratization of technology, promoting collaborative environments between researchers, as 3D designs are easily shared. This holds the unique possibility of extending the open-access concept from knowledge to technology, allowing researchers everywhere to use and extend model structures. Here, it is presented a review of additive manufacturing applications in optical microscopy for life sciences, 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.