The open-source concept by Bath University offers schools, homes, and laboratories the ability to print their own precision microscopes in 3D.

Through an open-source design developed at the University of Bath, laboratories around the world will for the first time print their own precision microscopes to examine samples and detect diseases. Described in Biomedical Optics Express, the OpenFlexure Microscope is a completely automatic, laboratory-grade instrument with motorized sample positioning and focus control.Its ability to produce high-quality images is unique among 3D-printed microscopes. It was designed to be easy to use, featuring an intuitive user interface and simple procedures for aligning.It is also extremely flexible, meaning it can be customized for laboratory, school, and home use. Best of all, the Bath design is much more economical than a conventional microscope, both in terms of the initial cost of the equipment and the maintenance costs. A commercial research microscope will sell for tens of thousands of pounds.It is possible to create an OpenFlexure microscope for as little as £15 (this will cover the expense of the printed material, a monitor and some repair hardware).A top-end version will cost a few hundred pounds to make, with a microscope objective and a Raspberry Pi device installed in it.Dr. Joel Collins, co-creator of the University of Bath's microscope and physics expert, said, "We want these microscopes to be used around the world – in classrooms, science labs, hospitals and homes if they want a microscope just to play with. You must be in a spot to pick it up and use it immediately. You need to make it affordable, too.To date, more than 100 OpenFlexure microscopes have been printed in Tanzania and Kenya, demonstrating the feasibility of a complex piece of hardware being conceptualized and manufactured elsewhere in one part of the world.Co-creator Dr Richard Bowman said, "Our Tanzanian partners, STICLab, have changed the design to better suit their local market, showing another key strength of open source hardware – the ability to modify, develop, and take ownership of a device."