A Fully Printable Microscope

by kwalus Apr 20, 2013
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I'm actually in the process of printing this now. I'm mainly using it for my kid to take as a prop to school (no lens' he just wants to be a scientist, but I don't have time to source the lens' this weekend). Since it's mainly a prop, do you see any issues with scaling this down by 50%? Should all the parts still fit appropriately?

yup I guess it should work

I happen to have some microscope objectives laying around. Could they be incorporated and used for something like this?
This kind http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carl-Zeiss-100x-Ph3-100-1-25-Oel-160-Microscope-Objective-/321468994004

can you send me a link as to where to buy the lenses

Great design, I just finished making one for a friend and I'm probably going to print another for myself.

I have literally thousands of disposable cameras and a box full of lenses, was wondering what to do with them.

You can make an even more powerful objective lens from a #222 penlight bulb! The lens must be removed from the bulb by carefully smashing the glass and filling away the bulb leaving the lens. Must be superglued in with tiny beads of glue on the edges of the lens. Not color corrected (!) but will give lots of magnification.

Holy crap the stand does NOT want to print using ABS. I got monstrous warping that would clog the nozzle eventually, or after using copious amounts of ABS juice I finished the print but with tons of layer separation along the back due to the massive stress buildup. I decided to live with the layer separation, and honestly it is plenty sturdy despite the fact that it looks a bit questionable. The microscope is otherwise great! This microscope is truly impressive for something 3D printed. I used free Kodak disposable camera lenses I got from the photo lab at Walgreens, and I'm able to focus on a human hair nearly as well as in the photo posted by the microscope's author. It's actually usable, which is FAR more than what I was expecting to end up with. Kwalus, my hat is off to you for coming up with this device.
Sort of trivial, but I would suggest including a lens cover to keep dirt/dust off the microscope. I would create one myself but it is such an insignificant part nobody would bother downloading it. If it were included with the microscope files, however, I think people may find it useful.

Thanks for the comment, very informative

Print with your bed at 100deg C, and use bare glass with super hold hair spray.
try upping the extruder to 270 deg

Does this HAVE to have a black objective to exclude light? The darkest PLA I have on hand, at the moment is either silver or purple.

I printed it with neon orange ABS, and it works just fine as long as you have a good light source to illuminate the subject you wish to view.

can you translate the details?

The website said the the convex lens has 5mm focal length. By the way, I would like to know what is the focal length of the lens you used.

Anyway to flip this around to where I could attach my USB microscope? I like the Idea of using the knob to move it up and down just like a regular scope.

you could certainly use the same mechanism but it would require substantial redesign of the head on this. I don't have a USB microscope to design around.

Haven't printed yet, but this is inspiring, great work!

thanks, working on some upgrades as well (when possible anyway)

I printed the microscope and it came out great. The tube tends to slip down though. Have you considered a pawl or something to hold the tube in place?

I will have an upgrade in the morning for this.

did you get your smartphone adapter working on it? If so I can add the link. A good fit on the top of the optical tube would be 20.3 by 20.3 mm

Well, that means you did an excellent job of printing it! I will add a thumb screw to lock the tube in place. I need that anyway for the smartphone adapter.

This is a great design. I have a huge favor to ask... Is there any way that you can re-orient your parts so that they do not need to be printed with support material? It will make for a much cleaner finished print and be easier for those who have printers other than makerbots...

The stand, focus knobs and kodak_obj could be placed on different part side to maximize solid layer on the mirror and provide better medium for printing.

just uploaded the oriented STLs

that sucks, just lost all the download stats for that

Sure, I can do that. I certainly didn't intend anyone to print the parts that way, I just assumed you would orient them accordingly. You should be able to print the entire thing without any support as I did.

Awesome. Thanks a million. You should check out this project I just completed and posted. Let me know if you are going to try to make it and I'll give you some tips.


The Devil's Music Box

I was working on this but you beat me to it. Congrats!

Printable lab tools are one way underfunded schools around the world can "experience" what developed schools often use. Great design kwalus. Keep them coming! Andrew (http://3dhacker.com3dhacker.com)

you should adapt it to work with these 3D printable lenses :D

Adjustable Focus 3D Printed Liquid Filled Lens

I considered that but it would be a real hassle to put together and work with. I wanted this to be useful and relatively easy to work with.

This is awesome, but I think it is too big to print on a 6"x6" bed. Any chance it can be shortened at all, or will that compromise the magnification. Turning the racklid 45 degrees nearly lets me get it onto the bed. (I'm assuming that is the largest/longest piece - I didn't try the others)

Let me think about this, I will see if I can make some modifications to get it comfortably on a 6x6" platform. One option would be to split the tube length wise, this should be doable.

now all you need to make is a moving bed

Thank you, I will think about that!

Agreed, that is what we are working on. I look forward to seeing more of your designs. I am in the process of printing your microscope, but Makerware seems to be freezing up when I try to print on high setting. Have you encountered this problem? Just curious.

did you sort out your makerware problem. I used it as well and did not have any issues?

I figured it out. The slicing engine just got bogged down. I'll post a photo when I'm done. Cheers

I actually made a similar adapter for this microscope to the one you posted just now but I had a problem that the weight of the phone was pushing down the optical tube. I was planning to add a thumb screw to the head so that you can lock it in place. I just needed to find the time.

I have also been playing with disposable camera lenses. I like your design. While everybody may not have access to a printer, commercial 3D printing will be available soon and that will definitely make open source microscopes available to classrooms.

It would be really neat if we could collect enough open source printable tools to do some significant lab work.

but even if you had open source lab tools, you still need the reagents such as enzymes, buffers, media, dyes, etc. These are not things one can make on their own and they are significantly expensive

agreed, but you have to start somewhere and people will hopefully find open versions of those as well. I am working on an open platform for sharing more complex wetlab/bio things/processes: http://openvitro.comopenvitro.com but it's just started.

Very cool. I'd love to design a hybrid of this with the laser cut one I made http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31632http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... that could be made in large quantities for schools. My challenge with a fully 3D printer version is that it would take too long to make 30-60 for a classroom. However, I may crib the tube and the focus from you while making the body out of the laser cutter to save time...

Microscope with iPad attachment

I did not time it, but it will likely take good part of a day to make one. But that is a great point, I will think about ways to reduce the complexity to speed up the printing.

BTW- Another challenge I found with the laser cut version was that the children would get the optics dirty while trying to seat them in nicely... the 3D printer can make a very nice holder for the optics while keeping them aligned.

I think i´ll make a smartphone addon so i can make pic too :-) Cool thing !!!

Great, thank you!

actually, if you have some ideas it would be helpful. I was considering that exactly. I took the attached photo by holding the iphone up to the eyepiece. The camera is so far to the edge of the phone that I am not sure if the displaced mass will be a problem, something to try. One thing that I was planning to do is add a thumb screw in the head in order to hold the optical tube in place once it is focused so the phone does not force it down. The base is fairly wide so it could work.

Wow! Very good work. Have you thought of about a way to adapt an iPhone to it? It would be a perfect combo of capturing and printing. Keep it up! Again fantastic.

Thanks very much. Yes, I was thinking of making a nice eyepiece upgrade and phone attachment. The problem is I only have one phone (iphone 4s) so am looking for other people to help with the rest. I will clean up the design files and post them.

Any plans to get this into classrooms in third world countries? Seems like an ideal thing, especially for clean water education efforts.

That is a nice idea, I will look up some basic tests to see if it would help. Any ideas?

Our team of hackers/makers has been pondering a similar project in the last week! Since we do not have access to lenses we cannot start :( Amazing that we share a common interest in lab tools (first the pipette, now this microscope). Very nice work, well done!

thanks, it was really fun!