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3D printing of (horizontal, agarose) gel trays, and other lab equipment - (Jan/15/2014 )

I am curious the thoughts/experiences of others on this, as it relates to safety for this specifically. I was told to do this, got one back (it doesn't quite fit in the the box upon adding the rubber strips, so may have the people over at the print lab try it again to tweak and improve it). The "ink" used I believe I was told is a bio-based plastic (from maize). I tend to be on the paranoid side for safety. Since electricity is involved, I am a little apprehensive about potential adverse reaction(s) being catalyzed. I suppose, though, the risk would be less than using acrylamide with an "unknown" component (not that everything now is used has been appropriately studied and approved), but we do still use ethidium bromide for NA staining (really should switch to something less controversial). If on the surface it worked fine, and the price was much less, would you have no problem using such an item?



why not?


if it works correctly then there should be no controversy.


gel apparatus is, usually, molded plastic. "printed" plastic should perform just as well.


This is quite interesting. Could you please share, where you got this done and approximately how much did it cost you. 


Electrophoresis accessories are crazily expensive and usually uncompatible between different manufacturers. I would really like some things 'printed' to my requirements.

-Ameya P-

This sounds great! The first thing I've thought about 3D printing is that you can customize your accessories - that is a great advantage, for example when you think about making combs of different sizes, thickness... And yeah I do not understand why those stuff are so expensive from the companies... 

I would not be worried about the safety aspect as long as the experiment works. If you are paranoid about this, you can look into some other inks and there should be inert materials..

As for safer DNA staining, GR green, Sybr green 1, Sybr Gold are great choices..



It was just the "3D print lab" at our public university (South Dakota), so I would imagine that many places troughout the U.S. have them. Even though at campus it is more or less independent in needing to generate funding through sales. For other cities if not one on a campus there might be one somewhere in town. I haven't used it yet as it didn't quite fit with the rubber strips, so they are going to retouch the grooves or try a new one. I seems to be quite cheap process (like $15 an hr for the 1st, then $10 for the 2nd, and like $7 for each hour afte that if required). They can either get the "software template" (I'm not the best with this kind of terminology)  for the item online I believe, or for this since I don't think was available, someone probably generated it (various students work at the lab).


I was told that if you have the right tape you can use it across the sides of the box to hold the liquid until it hardens. so that should work, and i saw online some larger rubber pieces that can be used to hold the gel tray (outside of the electrophoresis box) until it hardens... the latter I would think also to be a little more tolerant of preciseness of the two grooves (which was the problem). Of course, though, one would want it such that it can work fine with the rubber strips, so I should find out later this week if they got it to do so. I will also post a rough estimate of the price along with a pic.



Ok. I will look into those. According to Sigma (which is selling you that product, so need a healthy skepticism) "Nancy-520" is supposed to be even better safer than sybr green, but I will spend a little time checking all the different options.


Well, although I can see it working excellent several years down the road, still a bit problematic... some kinks to work out. First was the grooves so that the rubber strips fit in well, and then there was the percent fill (the first time it was not dense enough and so began to float somewhat). At present, with the technology we had avilable to us, I think it would only be marginally cheaper. Nevertheless, definitely something to keep in mind as time progresses.