PrintMyLab Results

Thanks to all who submitted entries to Tekla Labs’ 3D printing contest!  We are really encouraged by the strong feedback we received and look forward to hosting more design competitions for both 3d printed and traditional DIY lab equipment.

Stay tuned as Tekla Labs works on posting the 3d-printable design files for the entries into the competition.  We’ll also work to optimize the designs for printing on all manner of 3D printers, and to create step-by-step instruction documents. Let us know if you want to get involved and help out!

Visit the original contest page here.  Email questions to

Category: DIY Alternative

1st Place:

“The Searcher” submitted by Tim Marzullo

About: The Searcher is a low-cost 3D printed micromanipulator for precision neural recordings.  The Searcher is especially designed as a low-cost neuroscience tools for high school and early college students to begin learning about neurophysiology.

A typical neurophysiology experiment involves placing electrodes close to neurons and then using amplifiers to detect the small electrical impulses. Example current experiments, viewable at: use relatively easy biological preparations whereby electrode pins are inserted by hand into earthworms, crickets, or cockroaches. With this approach, we are limited to experiments in animals with large enough neurons that precision is not necessary. For more sophisticated experiments, such as recording from individual cell types in fruit fly neurons/muscle or even specific ganglia in insects, manipulators are needed to carefully position electrodes near neurons or muscle tissue.

Commercially available manipulators typically cost $500-$1000 and are made of high quality steel. The Searcher requires only eight 3D printed parts and common hardware components such as nuts and machine screws.  The Searcher has 4 degrees of freedom (an x-axis, y-axis, z-axis, and angle of attack), is hand operated, and has been used to successfully record muscle and neural activity in crickets and earthworms. The whole design was printed on a MakerBot Replicator within 3.5 hours and assembled within 1.25 hours using superglue, epoxy, and light machine oil.

2nd Place:

“The Fanfuge” submitted by Chris Takahashi

About: The Fanfuge is a cheap alternative to traditional bench-top microcentrifuges used for spinning out bubbles and pelleting cultures.  Similar commercially available 6-tube centrifuges can cost $200-400, while this one can cost less than $10! (depending on what parts you have lying around)

3rd Place:

“Magnetic Purification Stand” submitted by Charlie Kim

About: Magnetic purification protocols have revolutionized the simplicity of purifying cells, proteins, and all manner of biomolecules. Magnetic purification columns are widely used in immunology, stem cell biology, cancer, and infectious disease research. Such technologies have made possible previously challenging techniques, such as purifying very rare stem cell populations. However, a simple entry-level magnetic stand costs on the order of $1000, which limits availability of the technology.
This DIY magnetic purification stand can be constructed for only the cost of rare earth magnets and the 3d printed polymer. The design is modular with a separately printable base, lid, and legs, to minimize material requirements and maximize flexibility in design upgrades. In addition, the higher magnetic field strength of my design as compared to commercially available magnets offers improved performance for a tenth of the cost (
The purpose of the original design was to permit the purification of a biomineral from malaria parasites for immunology research. The design has been well received and printed across the world, enabling limited research dollars to go further in the fight against malaria.


Source: Malaria Journal 2010, 9:17 doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-17 Published: 14 January 2010


Category: Novel Gadget

1st Place:

“Petristencillator” submitted by Christof Osman

About: Every biologist that works with microorganisms that grow on agar in petri dishes probably streaks out hundreds and hundreds of strains over the years.  Often comparison of the growth of strains can give valuable insights and ideally may even lead to a figure in a publication.  For comparison of growth, it is essential that the plate is sectored in equally sized areas such that the availability of nutrients or other compounds is comparable for each strain on the same plate.  Identical sectors are, furthermore, desired from an aesthetic viewpoint, especially in the case of publication.  While dividing a petri dish in two halves is easy, dividing it in three thirds (not to mention seven equal sectors) often results in unequal sectors when it is done freehand.

The Petristencillator is a 3D printed set of master plates for sectoring petri dishes into between two and eight identically sized sectors.  The height of the rims of these master plates is adjusted to fit on the bottom of closed petri dishes.  Clamps on the inside of the rim allow the master plate to sit snugly on the petri dish, which prevents shifting during use.  To facilitate easy labeling, the thickness of the edges of the guides thin out to accommodate different size felt-tip markers.  These seven master plates printable files also have a 3d printable box, which allows convenient storage of the master plates.

To the best of our knowledge, the only similar commercially available are stickers that can be stuck to the back of petri dishes.  In comparison, the Petristencillator is less expensive, easier to use, more reusable, and more versatile regarding the number of sectors that can be marked.

2nd Place:

“iPhone-to-Dissecting-Scope Mount” submitted by Peter Combs

About: There are broadly two classes of microscopes found in a lab: high‐grade microscopes with an attached CCD camera, and much cheaper benchtop dissecting microscopes, which either are too old to have considered an external camera in the design, or at best have optional, expensive attachments. However, with the increasing popularity of smartphones many people carry around a high quality camera in their pockets, which would be suitable and convenient to use for documentation of experiments (especially with electronic lab notebooks), or in training or teaching by allowing multiple people to view the screen. This 3D printable mount securely holds an iPhone 4 on a Zeiss Stemi DV4 dissecting microscope. The shims are a lightweight, adaptable approach to hold the iPhone at the proper position and distance from the eyepiece for clear, full field‐of‐view pictures. The whole assembly can be attached or removed in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, the parts can be easily modified for use with other brands of microscope.
Inspired by (but no models used): .  An attempt to print this
design showed that it used more plastic, was bulkier, misaligned, and less convenient than the design I ultimately created.

3rd Place:

“Multiplex Tube Lid” submitted by Chris Takahashi

About: Experimental protocols can require sampling from 12 to 36 tubes at short intervals. Unfortunately, the standard tube lids friction fit on and the entire tube must be removed, uncapped and replaced. Furthermore all 36 caps must be set down in a sterile place and without mixing caps between tubes to prevent cross‐tube contamination. The time it takes to do this is unacceptable in some cell culture experiments.

By linking 6 caps together that are just loose enough to be removed without too much force, an entire row of caps can be removed in one motion! This reduces sampling time from minutes to seconds, and helps to prevent cross-contamination,  simplifying collection of data that is otherwise too difficult to obtain.