When we took a biology lab, you had to use a mouth pipette to transfer liquids around. That always seemed odd to use your mouth to pick up something that could be dangerous. It’s also not very efficient. A modern lab will use a liquid handling robot, but these aren’t exactly cheap. Sometimes these are called pipettors and even a used one on eBay will set you back an average of $1,000 — and many of them much more than that. Now there’s an open source alternative, OpenLH, that can be built for under $1,000 that leverages an open source robot arm. You can find a video about the system below.
The robot arm, a uArm Swift Pro, is the bulk of the cost. The Pro can also operate as a 3D printer or a laser engraver with a little work. In fact, we wondered if you could use the arm to make a 3D printer and then print the parts you need to convert it to a liquid handler. Seems like it should work.
The 3D printed parts hold the pipette and syringe assembly. There’s also extra motors to operate the plunger, as you might expect.
For programming, the device uses Python and Blockly — the latter being used if you don’t want to write actual code. There’s an example bioprinting application and the post claims the accuracy is within 0.15 microliters.