Call for collaboration on an Arduino-based micro-centrifuge for rural and marginalized areas in Africa

“Most health clinics in rural African regions have challenges sending samples to hospitals in cities because they are typically far from them and due to the poor state of the local roads, the test tubes containing the samples regularly break as a result.” Richard Holdbrook

In order to provide health clinics in rural and isolated locations in Africa with access to a machine that can separate blood fluids and other liquids for accurate testing and diagnosis, we have constructed a microcentrifuge as a first prototype.

We are looking for laboratory experts, people who have been working with micro-centrifuges to help test our first prototype as we seek expert opinions and consultation.

Please email frank@africaosh.com if interested.

Find our micro-centrifuge here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Vh28o9x20ZD6IAS6OoPU5-BZCOr_BjPS/view

Regards.

Frank

Hello,

I find this project is very interesting and useful. From the video I can see (and hear) that the rotor of the centrifuge is not perfectly balanced. This is, I think, a crucial point to address as it could compromise the centrifuge at high speed and not achieve the separation in the samples.

Thank you for your observation. We would be excited to have you join us doing the testing and consulting phase of our project.

Hi Frank!

this looks nice and I think it is great that you are reaching out to get collaborators on the project.

I think one thing that could help a lot is to make your current documentation publicly available? this would allow people to make comments and suggestions in an asynchronous way, reducing the barrier to contribute!

Other than that, from the video I agree with @RosarioIac, you and your collaborators should really look into why the rotor is not balanced, even when it is running empty (seems empty in the video). With the high speeds you will get on the centrifuge, having this unbalanced also poses a safety issue.

Related: A couple of years ago I helped coordinate a couple of OSH projects as part of my fellowship with Mozilla…One of them was about making a derivative of a centrifuge… more info about it here Open Source Centrifuge | Open hardware centrifuge project

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Just in case it can serve as a quick tip for solve the balancing problem; from the @gaudi designs I learned that is always much easier to produce balanced holders with laser cutting than 3D printing.

In the hackteria wiki there is some further information about different ways of making the rotors, together with some centrifuge designs using old CD readers. The laser cut rotors in the wiki are for special tubes so you may want to adapt this idea to your own eppendorfs.

Hi Frank

Nice project idea!

I’d recommend reading the issues board for the FOSH project that Andre mentioned (Open Source Centrifuge | Open hardware centrifuge project) because the comments there contain a lot of ideas and improvements. I found them very interesting to follow at the time the project was ongoing.

For very low speed applications, I feel safe with 3D printed/laser cut centrifuges but for anything involving any amount of speed or heavier tubes (6 x 3-6 ml blood collection vacutainers is not very light) I want metal or very thick and strong plastic separating me and the rotor if it shears off the spindle. I don’t know what the speed of your motor is but some designs use quite high speed RC helicopter motors with minimal protection and it’s a bit scary. I would plan for a catastrophic mechanical failure at top speed when you’re designing the safety features!

One design aspect that you might want to look into is the fixed angle rotor, I think it is typically 45 degree for blood separation. Yours looked less than that but it could just have been the angle of the camera in the video.

Jenny

Hi Frank,

There are a lot of opportunities in bio for OS but I don’t think centrifuges are. The are high speed, dangerous machines that need to be made of metal. Plenty of dangerous or not performant ones already in OS.

Better just buy used ones and fix them, I have two, they work perfectly and the were about 100$ a piece. One would need very expensive manufacturing facilities to make them.

Cheers,
Adrian

Thank you @jcm80 @amchagas @FranQuero @adrianMolecule We will take your suggestions into consideration. we will also try to properly document the entire process. @adrianMolecule I understand your concern and thank you for that, hopefully with communities like AfricaOSH & GOSH, we can come together and make a more acceptable, standardized one.

I will check out all the resources shared and I will keep everyone updated on our progress.

Cheers everyone!! :slight_smile:

The are high speed, dangerous machines that need to be made of metal. Plenty of dangerous or not performant ones already in OS.

Low cost consumer 52x CD-ROM drives ran at above 10,000 RPM, were made of plastic and often mounted in desktop PC towers at about eye height. If that was possible then a low cost safe open source centrifuge is definitely possible.

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