Open Source Lab

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Open-Source Lab, 1st Edition: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs

Open-source Lab

Free content

FREE access to select content from Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs.

This guide details the development of the free and open-source hardware revolution and provides you with step-by-step instructions on building your own laboratory hardware.

In the first two chapters displayed here, the author defines the basic terms of open-source software and discusses the rise of the open-source hardware revolution and how it impacts science before exploring five pragmatic advantages to joining the open-source scientific community for both your research in general, and most importantly, your equipment and instrumentation.

Key Features

  • Numerous examples of technologies and the open-source user and developer communities that support them
  • Instructions on how to take advantage of digital design sharing
  • Explanations of Arduinos and RepRaps for scientific use
  • A detailed guide to open-source hardware licenses and basic principles of intellectual property


Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Scientific Research Costs details the development of the free and open-source hardware revolution. The combination of open-source 3D printing and open-source microcontrollers running on free software enables scientists, engineers, and lab personnel in every discipline to develop powerful research tools at unprecedented low costs.

After reading Open-Source Lab, you will be able to:

  • Lower equipment costs by making your own hardware
  • Build open-source hardware for scientific research
  • Actively participate in a community in which scientific results are more easily replicated and cited


Table of Contents

Open-source 3D Printing for Scientific Equipment


  1. Introduction to Open-Source Hardware for Science
  2. The Benefits of Sharing - Nice Guys and Girls Do Finish First
  3. Open Licensing - Advanced Sharing
  4. Open-Source Microcontrollers for Science: How to Use, Design Automated Equipment with, and Troubleshoot
  5. RepRap for Science: How to Use, Design, and Troubleshoot the Self-Replicating 3-D Printer
  6. Digital Designs and Scientific Hardware
    1. OpenSCAD, RepRap, and Arduino Microcontrollers
    2. Physics: Open-Source Optics
    3. Engineering: Open-Source Laser Welder, Radiation Detection, and Oscilloscopes
    4. Environmental Science: Open-Source Colorimeter and pH Meter
    5. Biology: OpenPCR, Open-Source Centrifuges and More
    6. Chemistry: Open-Source Spectrometers and Other Chemical Research Tools
  7. The Future of Open-Source Hardware and Science

See also

Will you 3D print your next lab?

External Links with Open Hardware for Science

Open-source Optical Microscope
Open Lab Tools Initiative at the University of Cambridge, UK

Supporting publications and examples in the peer-reviewed literature

Making Open Hardware the New Standard in Science @ 2015 Open Source Hardware Summit

Now there are even journals fully dedicated to open hardware:

MOST Group

External Publications


"This is a manual that every scientist should read and it holds a message so powerful and disruptive that the Anarchist Cookbook is a fairy tale in comparison." -- 3D Printing Industry

"Open-source and 3D printing pioneer Joshua Pearce has demonstrated in numerous ways how the technology can both save researchers money and increase accessibility to lab equipment through his studies with Michigan Technological University."-

Review on 3D Hacker! online, November 18, 2013

“3dhacker is truly impressed by the amount of work Dr. Pearce has put into Open-Source Lab. It’s immediately clear how a teacher or researcher in any institution around the world can reduce their laboratory equipment costs by 60-90%. Additionally Dr. Pearce illustrates the benefits of open source hardware and how it’s a must if the world wants to move at the fastest pace for scientific development!” -- 3dhacker Review: Open-Source Lab

Review on, November 18, 2013

“’Open-Source Lab’ is written for a wide audience, from novices to those who are “at one with the force of open source,” who can skip the introductory material and get right to work printing their own equipment.” --Nanowerk

Review Machine Design December 4, 2013

“Pearce intends his book to be a sort of guide to creating your own open-source lab gear. The topics he covers include software rights, best practices and etiquette for using open-source hardware, open-source microcontrollers, open-source centrifuges and spectrometers, colorimeters, and even open-source laser welding. There are also some helpful hints for those who are 3D-printing their equipment for the first time.” --Machine Design

Review on Midwest January, 2014

"Pearce's examples make it abundantly clear that the more people creating and sharing their hardware designs will only help research and technology accelerate and flourish. All things considered, the Open-Source Lab is a must read for every professional and amateur scientist. Even science educators would benefit from reading it and being able to improve their teaching laboratories for their students. And while he may not cover all the issues related to social and business aspects of open-source hardware, Pearce's writing throughout the Open-Source Lab is both inspiring and instructive as he covers all the information about the new and exciting possibilities with open-source hardware and 3-D printing." -- Midwest Book Review

Amazon Review

5 stars -- "Thorough guide to save a ton of money for your lab" - Amazon Reviews

Imprimalia 3D

Original Spanish text:

"Este adalid del uso del código abierto en la investigación continúa con su infatigable labor y ahora ha recopilado una serie de herramientas que pueden ayudar a biólogos, químicos, físicos, médicos, farmacéuticos e investigadores y científicos en general en la realización de sus experimentos de laboratorio." - Imprimalia 3D

English translation:

"This champion of the use of open source in the investigation continues his tireless work and now has compiled a series of tools that can help biologists, chemists, physicists, doctors, pharmacists and researchers and scientists in general in conducting laboratory experiments."

In the Media

Why Open Source Hardware is Important to Scientists - Interview with Allison Mills

Using Open Source Lab as a Textbook

US News

International Media









Later on open source hardware for citizen science: Do-it-yourself Science is taking off. The Economist


“What I have found with all kinds of devices that I have put out there is that people will make improvements on them for their own experiments, and when I go back to do another experiment, I can start where they left off. By sharing my work, it becomes better. It’s like having an international team of engineers constantly hammering on your project,” says Pearce. Nature News -