Sep 24, 2017 | By Julia

Two Michigan researchers have developed a 3D printed nutating (rotating) mixer that’s completely open source. Recently published in the academic journal Applied Sciences, the new findings by Dhwani K. Trivedi and Joshua Pearce, who are respectively based out of Michigan Technical University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, provide complete designs and instructions for 3D printing the state-of-the-art hardware at only a tenth of the regular cost.

For those outside the laboratory science industry, an open source nutating mixer might not sound like the most exciting innovation. Yet as Trivedi and Pearce explain, their new development is an important part of an overall shift in scientific knowledge, as a growing number of scientists throughout the world are beginning to freely share digital designs for open source hardware. As noted in their paper, the value of open source technology cannot be underestimated, as it enables custom experimentation, laboratory control, rapid upgrading, transparent maintenance, and a vast reduction of costs. That means anyone from young students to renowned researchers have equal opportunities to access and assemble the same hardware.

In this case, that hardware is a 3D printed open source nutating mixer, an essential device for smoothly blending biological samples such as blood or DNA without foam formation. 3D printed on a RepRap printer from either a hard thermoplastic polymer (PLA) or an elastomer such as NinjaFlex, Trivedi and Pearce’s innovation uses 1.75mm diameter filament for PLA and 3mm diameter filament if using NinjaFlex. Their CAD software, FreeCAD and STL files are all available on the Open Source Framework.

Normally priced at several hundred dollars, Trivedi and Pearce’s design adds up to only $37USD in parts - a fraction of the retail price without sacrificing any functionality. An open source mixer means users can easily repair or upgrade the device, and accommodate custom sample sizes and mixing velocities. Additionally, the nutating mixer was found to operate under loads weighing up to 3kg, allowing for the option of expanded sample capacity if desired.

Trivedi and Pearce heavily credit the rising trend of inexpensive desktop 3D printers and open source additive manufacturing as inspiration. According to them, it’s a trend they would like to see continue within the academic science community. Their study, which describes the development, design, assembly, and operation of a 3D printable open source desktop nutating mixer, is intended to aid in that trend.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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