The OpenFlexure Microscope goes to MozFest 2017

Richard Bowman
2 min readOct 27, 2017

3D printing my first working microscope stage was exciting — but what’s been even more exciting is being able to share it with scientists, engineers, hackers, makers, medics and teachers around the globe. The gradual opening up of science is a trend I’m really happy about. My contribution so far (as well as making sure my own data is as open as possible) has been sharing the designs for a printed microscope stage, that makes it possible to do serious microscopy with entirely open hardware. GOSH 2016 was the first open-source gathering I attended, and this year I’ve come to MozFest for the first time to meet the open-source community in person.

As a “professional” research scientist in a university, I use a lot of open source tools, but many of the instruments I need are only available as expensive, proprietary designs. The open science hardware movement aims to make experimental science more accessible, by sharing open designs for instruments that can be built and used by anybody — often requiring fairly modest resources. The benefit of open hardware isn’t just low cost, it’s the ability to know how an instrument works, study its performance, and customise it if needed. The OpenFlexure project aims to make designs available for high-precision translation stages that can be easily 3D printed but are suitable for serious laboratory use.

The OpenFlexure Microscope in an incubator, watching cells grow. (Thanks to Dario Bressan and Stephanie Reichelt for the cells and the incubator.)

On Saturday 28th, I’ll be running an OpenFlexure Microscope workshop in the Youth Zone at MozFest, room 206 at 2pm-5:30pm. Come along and say hello, play with a microscope, see if you can program an autofocus routine, or even sit down and build one if you have the time. I’m keen to road-test the latest version of the instructions with a wide variety of users before I make the next release! It will also be really great to meet parents, teachers, young people, and any other folk interested in using the microscopes for education. Of course, if you’re keen to talk about using it for something else that’s great too; it is open after all, and you have the freedom to do anything at all with it!