It's no secret we love DIY technology around here. The benefits include getting young people interested in the devices and systems that make our world go round; boosting the lifespan of gadgets as they can be modified and repaired rather than tossed; and now a benefit also includes making the cost of doing science cheaper.
In a September issue of Science, Michigan Tech's Joshua Pearce explains how using software, 3D printers and microcontrollers has helped him save his lab thousands of dollars by making their own lab equipment.It's a success story of using the DIY tools available at Maker Faires across the globe, something that designers and small-scale makers have been doing for years but is now getting serious recognition in university science labs. Pearce's lab uses the Arduino microcrontroller and five RepRap 3D printers (which they made themselves after buying just one for $500) to make their own gear which they then spend time perfecting with help from the maker community on sites like Thingiverse.
It's incredible to hear of the scientific community taking part in the DIY tech community in such a serious, and successful way. The money saved on lab equipment can be spent in better places, supporting graduate student projects for instance. It really shows that open-source can be science's best friend.