Posted on 26/07/2017 by Benjamin Royal

Open Labware 2017: The team is back from Nigeria

A report on science, electronics and 3d printers


Agustina, Benjamin and Rebeca spent two amazing weeks in Ibadan Nigeria for the “Open Labware: 3D printing your own lab equipment” Workshop. Thanks to TReND in Africa (Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development in Africa) Open Design Team worked side by side with scientist from Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya and Congo.


During the workshop we build a 3d printer (Prusa i3) while simultaneously learning about electronics and programing for Arduino, 3d printing, Openscad, open source software and hardware communities focused on hands on innovative solutions in science. As a third instance we started to develop the proposed team projects. Our team goals were to improve portability and to fabricate an alternative paste extruder to increase the variability of the printing possibilities.


The proposals of the other teams covered a wide range of tools to develop their research on neurosciences, biology and pharmacology and included a variety of proposals: from sensor mechanisms and data collectors for analyzing rat behaviour, to diverse lab tools such as calibrated pipettes and syringe pumps, fluorescent microscopes, to a centrifuge, a microinjector, electromyograph and a colorimeter.


We interviewed a lot of teams to know about their research topics and approaches to science, the working conditions and life of researchers in the varying countries. The general answer was that hacking and finding solutions to the lack of funding is fundamental. Thus, the possibility of 3d printing of cheaper and more accurate tools is an incredible asset for their research.


We also talked about culture and gender differences in academia. The few women that participated in the workshop explained us that despite growing opportunities for women in academia, there is still a dominating traditional and social model that understands the female responsible for raising a family while the male plays the role of the provider.

Here, we would like to mention the story of Kafilate, a doctoral researcher and entrepreneur from Lagos that impacts her community by cultivating mushrooms. A separate story about her is coming up soon...


We are delighted about the experience and the opportunity of sharing the interdisciplinary approach of OPEN DESIGN Team with students of all ages and of working side by side with inspiring researchers from various countries in Africa.


For future endeavours we aim to come together as a collaborative network, to stay connected, solve problems over distances and improve our future projects in an Open Labware environment for scientific pursuits!