What is Tekla Labs? Why are you doing this?

Tekla Labs is a community effort to build, document and teach the construction of high quality, self made laboratory equipment. Our initial focus is on biological research.


Who is Tekla Labs?

Tekla Labs is operated by researchers at the University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco.

We are an open community of scientists, nurses, writers, engineers, researchers, and lay persons interested in quality, self-made laboratory equipment.

You can find a list of our official partners and contributors  here.


What is  Tekla Labs’  philosophy?

  • Quality laboratory equipment can be built by just about anyone
  • Quality laboratory equipment can be built using readily available materials that are not originally intended or designed to be laboratory equipment
  • Using standardized procedures, quality assurance can be adhered to in the creation, construction and documentation of self-made laboratory equipment
  • Further quality assurance will be maintained by way of peer review of self-made laboratory equipment and related How-To guides, videos and training


How do I get involved? What skills do I need?

Tekla Labs is open to the global research community.  If you or your organization is interested to participate in Tekla Labs, you are welcome to join.

You can use, modify, translate, document and improve on the designs in our library (see “licensing” below). Additionally, you can join others in the Tekla Labs  community in developing and documenting new designs.

There are really many ways to get involved with Tekla Labs:

  1. If you would like to work directly with us, email us and we can setup a time to meet.
  2. If you have built or want to build your own piece of lab equipment and would like to share it, we can together put together the necessary DIY document so that we can share this with others.
  3. If you have a special skill (such as CAD wizardry, electronics, web design experience, fluent Spanish language skills for translating the DIY documents, or anything else) and would like you contribute a bit of your time, email us!
  4. You can build Tekla Labs equipment and give use feedback.
  5. Do you know of a resource that may be of interest for Tekla Labs or for people who use our DIY documents?  Let us know.
  6. This is a partial list and really there are many ways someone could get involved with us.  Really, just email us!


How do I add my projects to Tekla Labs?

Right now there are two ways you can add a project to our platform:

The old way is to download a blank DIY doc from http://www.teklalabs.org/blank-diy-doc/ and fill it out similar in format to the DIY documents already posted.  If you want a hand in filling out the detail and formatting it all properly, we’d be very excited to work with you to refine the DIY doc until it’s ready.  Typically we “proofbuild” (instead of proofread) the DIY documents to make sure they’re complete, easily followed, and have all the documentation needed.

The new way is another web platform that we’re currently transitioning to, called Dozuki.  Our Dozuki website is http://teklalabs.dozuki.com/ and you can start a new guide there.  The layout is more web-based (instead of word document-based) so it’s a bit easier to create a finalized guide when using DIY instructions created through this system.  However, we’re currently working with Dozuki to refine this process, so it may sometimes be a bit awkward to use.  But the good news is that when you can’t figure out how to do something you can ask us for help, or if that function doesn’t exist then we can ask Dozuki to create it!


How do you select which pieces of laboratory equipment it will include in the library? Can I recommend a piece of equipment?

We are gradually building our library of DIY documents to build lab equipment. If you have an idea for piece of equipment that you would like to have a DIY document for, email us and we’ll make it happen.

We also select laboratory equipment to be developed through surveys of researchers in laboratories around the world and requests by members of the Tekla Labs’ community.


What is “Self-made laboratory equipment”?

Laboratory equipment that can be built using standard supplies by individuals with little prior engineering experience. At its most difficult, the lab equipment can easily be built with help from a locally available retail machine or electrical repair shop.


What do you mean, “research-grade”?

Research grade lab equipment is characterized by it’s reliability and reproducibility in making measurements.  As a part of each DIY document, we will include the steps necessary for callibrating your newly built lab equipment, whether its a magnetic stir-plate or a pH meter.


Who is the intended audience?

Tekla Labs is for scientists all over the world in all different types of settings: high school teachers, university researchers, and independent laboratories.  The blueprints found on the site will generally require that the user has access to a hardware store and an electricity source.  Beyond that, our modular blueprint design will allow users with a variety of resource levels to build our equipment — if the design includes a piece you don’t have access to, let the community know and we’ll help cook up some alternative solutions.


In what licensing format is access to DIY documents provided by the Tekla Labs Community ?

All DIY documents provided by Tekla Labs are open-source and published the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) Creative Commons License.

However, there are many different models for licensing, including newer models that are being designed specifically with hardware in mind. We appreciate that our community members have different thoughts on how to best share their designs and we are working on a more flexible system to allow for several sharing options, including completely open sharing. Based on feedback we’ve had, we are really excited to include also the option for allowing commercial use of the designs to enable effective distribution at universities in low-resource settings globally.  If you have feedback on what options you would like to see, please contact us.

If you already now wish to submit a design under a different license than the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) Creative Commons License, please feel free to contact us to propose an alternative license for your design.

The Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) Creative Commons License allows you to copy, redistribute and modify the DIY designs, as long as you follow the license rules: 1) you must appropriately credit Tekla Labs and the creator of the design, 2) it is for non-commercial uses and 3) if you alter or build on the design, you may only distribute under this same license or a similar license. Please see the creative commons webpage for the specific wording and for additional considerations and limitations of this license.

All contributors must agree to distributing their work under this creative commons license.  All users must also follow this license when building, modifying and redistributing any designs.


Does Tekla Labs sell equipment (anything)?

No. Tekla Labs’ focus is on providing quality DIY instructions.

However, if you do not want to construct your own laboratory equipment, print the How-To guide for the laboratory equipment that you want and take it to a local machine shop, electrical repair shop, university, DIY group or other business that has the ability to follow directions and the skill to construct the lab equipment you want.


Have another question you think belongs here? Ask us below and we will get back to you.