Inspired by a children’s toy, scientists at Stanford have created a human-powered blood centrifuge. Nicknamed the paperfuge, this simple device costs only 20 cents. The device is made of either paper or 3D printed plastic, fishing wire, and wood. In just 90 seconds of spinning, a blood sample can be separated into blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

Though its design is simple, the paperfuge is intended to have a big impact. The device could significantly affect the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like malaria. This is vitally important in off-the-grid regions where electricity has previously been needed to conduct medical tests.

Paperfuge is the third invention of its kind from Stanford’s Prakash lab where engineers rethink traditional medical tools as low-cost alternatives. In addition to trying to deal with cost, tell us what additional design factors do you think contribute to creating accessible scientific equipment? Join the discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion

@00:23 Joseph.Banks: This is a great example of scientists taking a piece of equipment that restricts the kind of testing that can be done in remote settings and making it run with a much simpler technology. I especially enjoyed the part of the video where the researchers were testing the ease of learning the device.

@01:21 csd2126: Another frugal science invention was highlighted in this other article. So interesting what can be done when instruments are distilled down to the basic needs to run.
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