3D Printed Syringe Pump Cuts Cost Of Science

Syringe pumps are used to administer small amounts of fluid (with or without medication) to a patient, or they are used for chemical and biomedical research in laboratories. They normally cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but now, scientists at MTU have made the design for a syringe pump open source, so it can be printed out on a 3D printer for just $50. Lower cost means that labs can run more experiments in parallel without worrying about the cost of equipment. 

3D printed syringe3D printed syringe

The design doesn't just build a single type of pump. Instead, the design can easily customized by a scientist or doctor for his requirements, meaning it can build any type of syringe pump. There is even the option to incorporate a Raspberry Pi as a wireless controller for an extra $120, so the syringe pump can be administered remotely.

This is just the beginning. The team, and others in the open source community, plan to open source designs for many more medical devices, so that anyone, anywhere, with a 3D printer, can access them at a minimal cost.

Lucky for the medical device industry, there are still a lot of devices that 3D printers cannot build. The printed objects can't replicate the mechanical performance of a molded plastic, they suffer from poor surface smoothness, and it's just not possible to 3D print with some of the materials that are suitable for use in medical devices. Remember that this design just prints the pump itself, not the disposable syringe that goes inside. 

However, progress is swift. Soon a 3D printer could be another option for medical device manufacturers to create their end products, sterilized in the lab, and meeting FDA guidelines.

But the time is up for syringe pump manufacturers. I hope the researchers gave them a heads up, so they have had time to create alternative product offerings.