3D Printing

A 3D printed $40 open-source microscopeGlobal Challenges Research Fund

Researchers at the UK’s University of Bath have designed an open source microscope prototype. The 3D printed microscope is intended to make educational tools more accessible.

The project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund– a key component in the delivery of the UK Aid Strategy: tackling global challenges in the national interest. 

The project was developed in conjunction with researchers from the University of Cambridge and Tanzania’s digital blacksmith STIClab.

Dr. Richard Bowman, who worked on the project said, “With consumer electronics being so cheap nowadays we can actually get a surprisingly long way and make a high-quality instrument for serious microscopy.”

One advantage of the microscope is the cost, and even at approximately $40 the optical microscope is a functional scientific tool. 


The frame is 3D printed plastic. Photo via Richard Bowman.
The 3D printed microscope. Photo by Dr. Richard Bowman.

Dr. Bowman explains the motivation for the making the microscope design available.

“By releasing the designs as free, open-source products we want to enable local entrepreneurs to produce the medical and scientific equipment that will improve healthcare, education, and research in some of the poorest areas in the world.”


In the 3D Printing Industry series looking at the future of 3D printing Dr. Thirumurugan S V Mahadhevan, a medical consultant and healthcare solutions manager, gave further details about how “3D printing of healthcare can have a bigger impact in coming years.

The researcher team is currently testing option for automating the microscope. Future functionally may include the ability to record data digitally.

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Featured image shows the 3D printed microscope. Photo by Dr. Richard Bowman.