A bioengineer at Stanford has been busy at work creating an alternative to the expensive microscopes used to diagnose blood-borne sicknesses like Malaria. What Manu Prakash came up with isn't just a microscope—it's a mini tool made of laser-cut cardstock parts and a lens that's destined for mass-produced design stardom. According to Stanford's release on the invention, the origami-based microscope can be thrown off a building, stomped on and even submerged in water with no harm done to its functionality, making it perfect for use in harsh climates.
Cardstock, lens and adhesive included, this bookmark-size design comes in at around 50 cents and takes 20 minutes to put together. See what the designer has to say about the creation of Foldscope and its open-source potential:
While the origami construction is noteworthy in itself—not to mention a crafty approach in a world of Doctor-ese and mysterious tools—the real star in this design is the lens:
One of the unique design features of the microscope is the use of inexpensive spherical lenses rather than the precision-ground curved glass lenses used in traditional microscopes. These poppy-seed-sized lenses were originally mass produced in various sizes as an abrasive grit that was thrown into industrial tumblers to knock the rough edges off metal parts. In the simplest configuration of the Foldscope, one 17-cent lens is press-fit into a small hole in the center of the slide-mounting platform.
Prakash recently gave a TED talk on the design—check it out here.
Erika is the editorial assistant at Core77. When she isn't covering design, you can find her writing about music, food, and healthy living habits. But mostly music. She also has a strong affinity for hedgehogs, bowling, and bands with goofy names.