Low-Cost Microplate Reader with 3D Printed Parts for under 500 USD



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A 96-well microplate reader for absorption spectroscopy was designed, constructed, and tested at a total cost of ca. 500 USD. The reduced cost of the device represents the major technical contribution of this manuscript, as costs were reduced 7 fold from previous reports. The device was able to achieve 3σ limits of detection of ca. 0.01 absorbance units (AU) over a 60 second measurement for the mid-visible wavelength range. Component parts are either commercially available, or 3D printed from plans. Analysis wavelength can be altered throughout the visible region through use of various photographic or theatrical filters. This feature allows the well plate reader to be used for typical laboratory assays such as cell population estimation by optical density (OD) at 600 nm, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) at 450 nm. This manuscript reports on the motivation and process of constructing the device, lists required parts, presents data demonstrating device function, and provides the community of scholars with plans to reproduce the work. The device can be reproduced in laboratories lacking sufficient resources to purchase commercially available options and this outcome contributes towards empowerment of individuals and equity of scientific enquiry.


© 2022 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. cc-by


3D printing, 96-well plate, additive manufacturing, low-cost science, open access, open source


Thompson, J.E.. 2022. Low-Cost Microplate Reader with 3D Printed Parts for under 500 USD. Sensors, 22(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/s22093242