How-to format DIY blueprints

General Tips

Keep it simple, scientists!  Tekla Labs’ users come from all different specializations and have varying knowledge bases.  Blueprints will be most beneficial if they can be understood by scientists from all backgrounds.  Accessible blueprints keep instructions concise, avoiding technical jargon and including graphic representations as much as possible (check out our guide to pictures to help you visually outline your DIY design!).


Product Overview

The product overview is designed to orient readers to the purpose of the design.  For more complicated pieces of equipment (e.g. SPR microscope) this section will help the reader understand the usefulness and principle of action of a device.  The goal of the product overview is to help your fellow scientists and engineers quickly decide if a piece of equipment will be useful to them. This section includes pictures of the finished design.

Required Skills and Tools

In this section the skills and tools needed for the project are summarized in tables.  This lets our readers understand what they’ll need for the project without having to carefully read the instructions in depth.


The specifications of a design supply the qualitative and quantitative requirements for the design.  Specifications give readers information about how the piece of equipment will perform, before building it themselves.  These specifications will be verified with tests in the “Validation and Testing” section (see below).

List of Materials

A list of all the parts needed to build the equipment.  “Part Name” establishes a consistent term used to refer to any part throughout the whole document.  “Part Description” allows for notes about each part, especially when defining the specifications that each part must fulfill.  “Module” refers to the module (see “Modules” section below) where each part will be used within the instructions.  “PartID” is a standard system of tracking parts that Tekla Labs will use in our future database to provide a library of information about any part (this section can be left blank by those creating the documents).  “Quantity” is how many of each part is used in the document, or can occasionally be used to provide a specification on size, especially if a part is cut out of a larger piece of stock.  “Cost” is the author’s recorded cost (or best estimate) for each part.

This section should ideally contain pictures identifying each key part. If possible, identifying the part as it they are found within the finished equipment or finished module.

Details of Materials

This section gives the author the chance to comment on the selection of any specific part.  This means that the author can provide a note to any part so that a future user can understand the important information about a part.  Examples of questions this section can answer are:
-Why was this part chosen?
-What other parts could substitute for the chosen part? (A cheaper, more expensive, more specific, more available, simpler, equivalent, or more complicated part)
-What are the critical specifications for this part?
-Where can I find this part or something like it?


The instructions for each piece of equipment are divided into sub-sections, called “Modules.”  The modules should be able to serve as self-sufficient instructions capable of being interchanged between instructions for other kinds of equipment with minimal changes.  For example, a “motor assembly” module from a magnetic stir bar may also be used to create the motor assembly for a media rotator.  Examples of modules are:

-Module 1: Motor Assembly

-Module 2: Motor Controller

-Module 3: Housing

Modules should consist of as many pictures as possible.  The pictures will provide close-up detail that words may be insufficient to describe, and they will allow readers to follow along with the construction of a piece of equipment.

Final Assembly

This section explains the assembly of the individual modules into the final piece of equipment.  Pictures are again highly encouraged.

Validation and Testing

Validation of DIY lab equipment is critical to verifying its lab worthiness.  For each piece of equipment, tests should be described that will give a builder the ability to verify the design is performing up to all specifications for that piece of equipment.  For example, being able to verify the relative centrifugal force in a centrifuge is critical to being able to use it for laboratory-quality research.

Proper Usage and Maintenance

All DIY documents provided by Tekla Labs will be open-source and published the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) Creative Commons Licence. This creative common licence allows you to copy, redistribute and modify the DIY designs, as long as you follow the licence rules: 1) you must appropriately credit Tekla Labs and the creator of the design, 2) you may not use the design for commercial purposes, and 3) if you alter or build on the design, you may only distribute under this same licence or a similar licence. Please see the creative commons webpage for the specific wording and for additional considerations and limitations of this licence.  All contributors must agree to distributing their work under this creative commons licence.  All users must also follow this licence when building, modifying and redistributing any designs.


This section is standard to all document templates posted to Tekla Labs. If you want to add your own contact information, you may do so here.