How to Eviscerate Lab Costs: Advances in Materials, Electronics and 3-D Printing for Scientific Equipment

February 21
Versione stampabile

Venue: Department of Industrial Engineering - 11:00 – 12:00 pm, Seminars Room

  • Prof. Joshua M. Pearce - Department of Materials Science & Engineering - Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA


Rapid technological evolution through the open source development of both Italy’s Arduino electronics prototyping system and RepRap 3-D printers has resulted in steep cost declines for rapid prototyping and the democratization of digital manufacturing. There is thus an opportunity to harness these trends to radically reduce the costs of experimental research while improving it by supporting the development of free and open source hardware for science. By harnessing a scalable open source methodology, funding is spent only once for development of scientific equipment and then a return on the investment is realized by direct digital replication of scientific devices for only the costs of materials. Millions of dollars have been conservatively saved already because latterly-scaled peer production and digital replication provides savings between 90-99% of the traditional costs. These radical cost declines make scientific equipment much more accessible for research directly, as well as indirectly by helping train the next generation of scientists and engineers as research-grade tools are available for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education all over the world. This seminar will document the rapid organic growth of the open source paradigm in science and engineering and the potential future applications of this approach harnessing advanced material science. It will conclude with opportunities for importing the benefits of the open innovation model into any scientific field.