OpenPCR Shows How Design And Manufacturing Are Changing

open pcr photo collage photo

Open PCR via Ponoko

It is such a remarkable story about how design and production are changing. 20 years ago a PCR machine ( polymerase chain reaction, a copy machine for DNA) was the size of a fridge, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and got its inventor a Nobel Prize.

Now, a designer can have an idea for building something like a cheap open source PCR, raise cash on Kickstarter, draw it up on Sketchup, manufacture it at Ponoko, and ship it out the door for $512.

open pcr inside

It really is an amazing demonstration of where technology is going, which is everywhere, including your living room. The developers write:

So, do people in garages have great PCR machines? Not really. Howabout high school or middle school teachers? Nope. Howabout smaller medical testing labs or labs in India or China? Nope. Even some big bio labs try their luck on eBay. We set out to change that.

Josh and I prototyped OpenPCR over about 4 months -- it was a lot of fun. Last May we unveiled the first OpenPCR prototype to all a bunch of crazy people on Kickstarter, 158 people gave us a total of $12,121. With that we designed and manufactured a repeatable, works-all-the-time device -- it took a lot of hard work.


Most of us don't have a crying need for a polymerase chain reaction machine in our kitchen, unless we eat a lot of questionable sushi. But to think that a couple of guys can put this on the market at this price, in this time, using online tools like Sketchup, Ponoko and Kickstarter. This is such a great demonstration of how design and manufacturing is changing, in ways that will affect us all.

Get your own at OpenPCR.

Found on Ponoko, which was used to make the case. Read an interview of how the designer did it here.
more on Ponoko:
Ponoko Ships Ideas Instead of Objects Across the Atlantic
Ponoko + ShopBot = 100K Garages: This Changes Everything In Downloadable Design

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