Turn A Smartphone Into A 1000x Microscope Using A 3D Printer

Microscope is such a thing that can amplify tiniest objects thousands of millions of time which can’t be seen with the bare eyes. But the very interesting thing is, now you can turn your smartphone into a 1000x microscope. And for that what you need? Just a 3D printer!

diy microscope
Phone screen shows onion cells (magnified 350x)

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), located in Richland, Washington, has released printable files (free) that will help you turn your smartphone into a microscope of up to 1000x magnification. The PNNL lab initially developed the microscope using internal discretionary funds aimed at enhancing its core scientific and technical capabilities. In an experiment, PNNL showed that once out of a 3D printer, the plastic housings can hold one bead against the camera lens of a smartphone or tablet. It is important to note that different bead sizes can create different levels of magnification and hence, there are different files for different devices and bead sizes.

plastic housing for diy microscope

The labs’ plans cover most cell phone brands, including iPhone 4 and 5, Galaxy S3 and S4 phones and iPads. The cost of the materials that you need to turn your smartphone into a microscope cost less than $1 (definitely that’s without the 3D printer). So what are you waiting for? Arrange a 3D printer and get the materials for mounting the samples you want to look at on glass slides. But make sure that you have cleared the glass beads so that it can provide magnification. You can find other troubleshooting tips at the lab’s webpage.


If you don’t have or can’t manage a 3D printer, then here’s a website where you can find people who own 3D printers and are leasing printing time for a fee. You can find a list of mail-order companies from which to order beads near the bottom of this page. Here’s a video showing off the incredible use of 3D printing.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Thanks To: 3D Print

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Anatol Rahman is the Editor at TheTechJournal. He loves complicated machineries, and crazy about robot and space. He likes cycling. Before joining TheTechJournal team, he worked in the telemarketing industry. You can catch him on Google+.

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