3D-printed hand-operated centrifuge enables biological testing in remote areas
A disc spinning between two loops of string, the whirligig, is a 5000-year-old toy returning over the centuries in different forms – the latest will save lives. This 3D-printed version is modified to hold tiny tubes of biological samples like saliva or blood. When it spins it acts like a tiny centrifuge – whirling samples at up to 6000 rotations per minute and pulling dense particles or cells downwards, separating biological samples into fractions for further analysis. Vital to medical diagnoses, lab-based centrifuges are expensive and require power, while the whirligig centrifuge, dubbed the 3D-fuge, is completely hand operated. Previously taken for a spin in the rainforests of Peru – where it helped to extract DNA to identify plant species – the 3D-fuge could also form part of a portable lab used in remote areas to test patients for conditions like malaria.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.