Update: Check out the winners for the PrintMyLab contest here.

The “3D Printing for Science” Design Challenge at UC Berkeley

Get your design 3D printed! Additional prizes for the winning entries!

Take a look at the competition flyer, download it and post it somewhere!

Have you ever been in the middle of an experiment and realized that you have run out of a laboratory supply staple? Ever wish that equipment Y or consumable X was made just a little differently? Or are you creative enough to design a fully new kind of laboratory tool or gadget? Here is your chance! Submit your blueprint designs to the 3D Printing For Science Design Challenge at UC Berkeley.

The competition is open to all designs that are applicable for use in science and engineering laboratories. If you want to get involved, but are unsure what’s needed, check out the “Suggested Problems” below. Join the printable revolution!

1) DIY Alternative: A 3D printing blueprint for an item that can replace a commercial product or a specific component of a commercial product used in scientific laboratories or in scientific/engineering research. Especially helpful if this part tends to break or get lost.
2) Novel Gadget: A 3D printing blueprint for a novel item not commercially available that is of use in scientific laboratories or in scientific/engineering research. Invent! Imagine! Print!

Important Dates
January, 2012: Competition opens
April 30: Last possible day to submit a design (11:59pm PST)
May 10: Final winners are announced

The top 5 entries that fulfill the rules in each category will be printed on a 3D printer by Tekla Labs.
The top 3 entries in each category will be awarded an additional prize:

1. Kindle Fire or DSO Quad Oscilloscope* AND $200 worth of toolbox supplies*
2. Kindle Fire or DSO Quad Oscilloscope*
3. $50 Maker Shed Gift Certificate, Subscription to Make Magazine ($35 value)
*winner chooses item(s),
**AND ALL PRIZE WINNERS get 2nd design of choice printed on a high-end commercial printer.

The Graduate Assembly at UC  Berkeley (

Get Inspired
There are around 5,000 3D printing designs on the Thingiverse website , from pen-holders to busts of Beethoven. Or check out some examples of lab-related 3D print-ables . The Cell-Scope uses a base made of 3D printed components as well as off-the-shelf lenses and eyepieces.

Need more inspiration? Example Problems:
• Containers or loaders for pipette tips, holders for pipettors
• Racks, holders and adaptors for eppendorf tubes and other sample containers
• Replacement arm for pH meter
• Sample holders that can be adjusted to fit multiple microscope stage designs
• Holders or adaptors for flask shakers

A panel of judges will evaluate each submission based on the following characteristics. Submissions do not have to accomplish all of these, but a strong submission would achieve several.
1. 3D Printability – It should be printable on low-cost 3D printers such as the MakerBot and Reprap.
2. Feasibility – Large modular structures are acceptable, but a design should be easy to construct.
3. Functionality and Usefulness – How likely is the design to be used in a lab.
4. Cost Differential – For replacements, how much do you save by printing the object yourself?
5. Aesthetic quality – Aesthetics will matter if cost, printability, and build-time are not affected.
6. Originality/Creativity

Still have questions? Email

How To Enter
Send your designs in original and .stl file formats accompanied by a 400 word or less description to by April 30th, 11:59pm PST.
Files have to be submitted in original/source file format and .STL file format. Files can be created through CAD programs (Google Sketchup and Blender are free options. Autodesk has free licenses for students and faculty).

Each submission should be accompanied by a 400 word or less description of your design, explicitly outlining its utility in science and engineering research. Remember to also include your name, a title for your design, and the category you are entering (DIY Alternative or Novel Gadget).

Multiple submissions from one person are permitted.

Who Can Enter
Anybody. You do not need to be affiliated with UC Berkeley. (Exception: If you are not in the US, please check with us before submitting).

Who We Are
This completion is run by Tekla Labs , a UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco-based student group that works on do-it-yourself (DIY) designs for standard laboratory equipment. We believe that DIY is a sustainable solution for making hands-on science education affordable.

Submit a 400 words or less description of the object’s function as well as what makes it a valuable product with respect to the winning criteria described below. Some topics discussed could be: problem solved, differential cost (vs. commercially bought product), ergonomics, ease of use vs. alternatives (including ability to make designs by hand).

Non-printable Components
Designs may incorporate non-plastic components if these are commonly available in general hardware stores and do not cost more than $10.

Submissions must be your own, original designs. Please see the “Legal” section below for information regarding intellectual property.

Printing Limits
For both categories, the design may use no more than 250 mL of plastic. Modular items must be printable in 4 sessions. The plastic and session limits are not inflexible if the design calls for violating them and has merit to do so. However, going beyond these limits may reduce the odds of winning for a design.

Note: Some printing will be performed by Tekla Labs, a UC Berkeley student group, with 1.75mm diameter PLA plastic on a 3D printer, so please take note of the following specifications of this printer:
- Build volume: 140x140x110mm
- Accuracy: 0.1mm
- Resolution: 0.0125mm
- Building speed: 1,800 mm/min
- Deposition rate: 33 cm3 / hr

Open Design
Contestants may be asked to post their digital designs on under an open license (CC BY-SA) and to have their designs displayed at the Tekla Labs booth at Maker Faire 2012.

Legal/Intellectual Property Rights

By entering this competition, you: (a) Warrant that:
• The work is your original work,
• To the best of your knowledge, it is not, and has not been in production or otherwise previously published or exhibited,
• Neither the work nor its use infringes the intellectual property rights (whether a patent, utility model, functional design right, aesthetic design right, trade mark, copyright or any other intellectual property right) of any other person.

Acknowledge that you are solely responsible for the protection of any intellectual property rights you may have in the work.

All competition entries (including descriptions, designs and/or images) submitted to Tekla Labs will remain property of the designer but can be used by Tekla Labs for promotional purposes.

No reimbursement or employment
Applicants are not entitled to any compensation or reimbursement for any costs. The applicant’s participation shall not constitute employment, assignment or offer of employment or assignment.

Use of the applicant’s personal data
Tekla Labs will use the personal data you submit in connection with the competition for the purpose of administering the competition and evaluating the work. Tekla Labs will not store or use any personal data outside of the competition.

Authorization and Limitation of Liability by Entry
By entering this competition:
(a) you authorize Tekla Labs to exhibit the work publicly, and
(b) you accept that Tekla Labs and the competition organizers are not responsible for any damages which you may suffer or claim to suffer by or as a result of taking part in this competition, the authorized use of your entry and/or any decision by the jury.

You can download all this information as a pdf: 3D Printing Rules