Home Research & Education Researcher develop 3D printed LEGO-like lab instruments

Researcher develop 3D printed LEGO-like lab instruments

Lego and Lego Technic are maybe the most known building blocks in the world but they are not very useful for laboratories and schools. Because of that a team of students and researchers has develop modular building blocks that can be used in laboratories and schools. Their system has different parts for electrics and for working with fluids.

The idea for this system was born by the student Douglas Hill because he hated it to start from scratch for each experiment and for each small change in an experiment.

When Doug came to UC Riverside, he was a little shocked to find out that bioengineers build new instruments from scratch. He’s used to putting together a few resistors and capacitors and making a new circuit in just a few minutes. But building new tools for life science research can take months or even years. Doug set out to change that

Often it is needed to change a small part or armature in a large experiment and until now it was common that the experiment was built from scratch for a small change. But that is very expensive and took a large amount of time and so often experiments only have failed because of their limited resources. The parts for the new system are all 3D printed so they are fairly cheap and it’s possible to develop and print own parts in a few hours and there is also a large library with standard parts that can be reused many times.

The system has the name MEC or MEC Blocks and the team has huge goals for the future: They want to spread their system over the world and make it possible for schools and labs to 3D print their own instruments and save money and time with the MEC Blocks.

As 3D printers become more mainstream, we’ll see them being used by schools and non-profits working in underserved communities, so ultimately we would like people to be able to use those printers to create their own MEC blocks and build the research and educational tools they need

If you are interested in MEC you may also want to read their complete paper which contains more details.

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