MakersResearch & Education

3D print an open source LEGO microscope for just $300

IBM has released instructions for a low-cost microscope

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

An IBM scientist has taken it upon himself to build a low-cost microscope after being disappointed with image quality results using his lab’s commercial device. The DIY microscope, which just about anyone can recreate at home, costs just $300 and is made of LEGO bricks, a Raspberry Pi computer, an 8MP Raspberry Pi camera and some 3D printed components.

The impressive build, designed by Yuksek Temiz, costs a fraction of the price of commercial microscopes but has an impressive capability: with 10-micrometer resolution, the microscope is comparable to systems on the market today. The microscope can capture high-resolution images of computer chips and other small objects.

IBM Temiz LEGO microscope

Though the LEGO-style microscope was invented a couple of years ago—and has successfully been used by Temiz and his colleagues at IBM Research—the instructions and design files for the project are now open source. In fact, at IBM Research’s facility in Switzerland, Temiz and his team have used the images captured using his microscope for a number of research publications.

By following a video guide and a LEGO-inspired instruction manual, makers can try to recreate the low-cost microscope at home. Temiz also hopes that students could eventually build them in class or that they could be deployed in developing regions, where commercial microscopes may be prohibitively expensive.

IBM Temiz LEGO microscope

“Many kids love LEGO, and with this task, they can also learn some Raspberry Pi programming and simple image processing, and they can magnify daily objects or scientific samples as they would do with a regular science class microscope,” Temiz said. “And it would be great if it could also be used in the developing world and for home schooling because it’s so much cheaper than off-the-shelf microscopes with similar capabilities.”

Don’t happen to have spare LEGO pieces lying around? That’s not a problem, because the IBM scientist has included 3D printable design files for all of the components (they can also be milled). However, Temiz recommends using LEGO bricks because they are cheaper, for one, and can easily be modified to create new microscope configurations. The full instructions for the LEGO microscope can be found on GitHub.

Consumer Products AM 2024

This new market study from VoxelMatters provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of polymer and metal AM in the consumer products industry across the three core segments of the additive manufactu...

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.