A polarimetric false color image of sugar crystals floating in the water.
Stop by the melting plastic bits, and your average 3D printer is just a handy 3-axis Cartesian motion platform. This makes them useful for all kinds of things and as a [E/S Pronk] shows us that they can easily be converted into an automated polarimetric microscope!
The microscope setup actually took two forms. For one, a regular digital microscope that any of us may be familiar with is a C-mount microscope lens attached to a Raspberry Pi HQ camera. The other is a polarimetric microscope that instead uses an Allied Vision Mako G-508B POL polarimetric POL camera with the same microscope objective. The polarimetric camera takes breathtaking false color images, with the color values corresponding to the polarization of the light reflected from an object. It’s incredibly specialized hardware with a matching price tag, however [E/S Pronk] hopes to be able to build a cheaper DIY version later as well.
3D printers are ideal as microscopes, as they are designed for small, precise movements and can be easily controlled via G-code. We saw that they are also used for other delicate purposes – like this one that has been converted into a soldering robot. Video after the break.