OpenFuge: An Open-source Centrifuge


Biohackers, fire up your laser cutters. [CopabX] has developed OpenFuge: a (relatively) low-cost, open-source centrifuge from powerful hobby electronic components. If you thought the VCR centrifuge wasn’t impressive, trolls be damned— OpenFuge can crank out 9000 RPM and claims it’s capable of an impressive 6000 G’s. [CopabX] also worked in adjustable speed and power, setting time durations, and an LCD to display live RPM and countdown stats.

And it’s portable. Four 18650 lithium cells plug into the back, making this centrifuge a truly unique little build. The muscle comes from a DC outrunner brushless motor similar to the ones that can blast you around on a skateboard but with one key difference; an emphasis on RPMs over torque. We’re not sure exactly which motor is pictured, but one suggestion on the bill of materials boasts a 6000 KV rating, and despite inevitable losses, that’s blazing fast at nearly 15V.

You’ll want to see the demonstration video after the break, but also make time to swing by Thingiverse for schematics and recommended parts.

24 thoughts on “OpenFuge: An Open-source Centrifuge

      1. How about instead of the camera looking out at the world around, have it pointed at something that will be on the centrifuge to watch it under the high gravity, a miniature version of what pilots go through.

    1. I can assure you that 90k rpm is impossible for the rotor/centrifuge. I am dubious as to whether the motor can handle that safely. 90K rpm is the theoretical, no load speed for 15 V but bad things will happen well before that. At 90K rpm, a 5 cm radius rotor (eyeballing here), the centrifuge will produce 452,790 g. A 1 ml sample will be pulling at 453kg or about half a ton of force on a plexiglass rotor! You can imagine what will happen to the thin plexiglass rotor. The tip will be traveling at a touch over 1000 mph at at 90K rpm btw.

      1. Normal benchtop centrifuges for ~20 samples (just a bit larger rotor) top out at ~20k rpm, and cost about $2000 on sale (non-refrigerated version). Anything above that is in “ultra” centrifuge territory, with high quality carbon fiber or aluminum rotors. I think they always have cooling (never used one without it), and I’ve used a few that pulled an internal vacuum to reduce drag.

  1. After seeing the motor that’s in there, and upon reading “And it’s portable”, an image flashed into my mind of replacing the Eppendorf tube holder with a rotor and flying it around.

    It was a silly thought, yet I still wonder if it’s technically possible; assuming you also linked four together into some unholy OpenFlyingFourFuge.

    1. The BOM price is probably conservatively high, the price for an *exact* replication using all-new purchased and premium materials. Of course, with anything open source and DIY, you can figure out ways to reduce the cost according to your needs, resources, and abilities:

      1) Construct the casing/shield from materials already on hand, and using more conventional/accessible/cheaper techniques than laser cutting.
      2) Reuse a spare motor/ESC you might already have, even smaller ones if you don’t need such high RPMs.
      3) Replace the fancy custom control board and display with a manual speed control, and maybe a timer.
      4) Replace genuine new 18650 batteries with those much cheaper, recycled and relabeled ones from China (Ultrafire and such); with a reduction in runtime of course. Or just use a suitable AC power adapter, which you might already have.

      Even if the end result bears little resemblance to the original, it’s still nice to have a reference design available to use as a starting point.

  2. I have no idea why you included my comment under the “trolls be damned” link. I have posted several projects on HAD with good success and my comments are always constructive and supportive. My comment simply suggested how to make a really cheap centrifuge on my site. I have no advertisements or anything to sell so what is the problem? I really think that it unfair to arbitrarily select me as I am very anti-troll.

  3. BOM was updated with a correct motor. New motor is a Turnigy Aerodrive SK3, with a 620 KV and a max of 19VDC, giving it a theoretical max of 11,780 RPM. This could still possibly generate 6,000 G’s at the bottom of the tube.

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