Michigan Tech’s Open Source Optics
Kyle Maxey posted on April 01, 2013 |

science, optics, tech, michigan, Doing science can be an expensive affair, but a new project from Michigan Technological University is trying to make science more affordable and more accessible.

In a recently published paper, professors and researchers at the university outlined their plans for creating an online, open-source library of 3D printable optics hardware. According to one of the paper’s authors, associate professor Joshua Pearce, “This library operates as a free, flexible, low-cost tool set for developing both research and teaching optics hardware.”

The Michigan Tech white paper goes on to state that by using 3D printed scientific apparatus the cost for each instrument dropped by over 97%, with some instrument components seeing a 99% decrease in cost.

When it comes to real world implementation of this technology, the team at Michigan Tech believes that their work could fundamentally alter the way people equip labs and do science. “To outfit an undergraduate teaching laboratory with 30 optics setups…  the total cost would be less than $500 using the open-source optics approach as compared to $15,000 for commercial versions, providing over $14,500 in savings.”

Professor Pearce also adds, “Saving money is nice, particularly for cash-strapped schools, but the real advantage of this approach is it enables researchers to fabricate custom optics equipment in house. You get exactly what you need for your experiments, even if they are not commercially available…This is the future of scientific equipment; we have only just started.”

Image Courtesy of PLOS ONE

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