Biology

A 3D-printed hand-powered centrifuge for molecular biology

by Gaurav Byagathvalli, Aaron Pomerantz, Soham Sinha, Janet Standeven, M. Saad Bhamla

The centrifuge is an essential tool for many aspects of research and medical diagnostics. However, conventional centrifuges are often inaccessible outside of standard laboratory settings, such as remote field sites, because they require a constant external power source and can be prohibitively costly in resource-limited settings and Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-focused programs. Here we present the 3D-Fuge, a 3D-printed hand-powered centrifuge, as a novel alternative to standard benchtop centrifuges. Based on the design principles of a paper-based centrifuge, this 3D-printed instrument increases the volume capacity to 2 mL and can reach hand-powered centrifugation speeds up to 6,000 rpm. The 3D-Fuge devices presented here are capable of centrifugation of a wide variety of different solutions such as spinning down samples for biomarker applications and performing nucleotide extractions as part of a portable molecular lab setup. We introduce the design and proof-of-principle trials that demonstrate the utility of low-cost 3D-printed centrifuges for use in remote field biology and educational settings.

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