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Therapeutics & Diagnostics 19-071

Low-cost modular system for live-cell microscopy

An image of 3D printed technology for live-cell imaging experiments.
3D printed, biodegradable, reusable carriers, and live-cell imaging chambers for cost and plastic waste reduction. Image obtained from inventor.

Tech ID



R. Truant

Patent Status

US provisional patent filed

Stage of Research

Proof of principle


Amy Hector
Business Development Manager


Live-cell microscopy imaging allows scientists to study important dynamic biological processes and cell interactions. Typically, it involves the use of high-quality glass-bottom chambers with suitable optical properties that allow cell culture, and gaseous buffer exchange. However, commercial sources of these chambers can add significant annual costs to cell biology laboratories. Therefore, there is a need to produce these chambers at a low cost.

A system developed at McMaster utilizes 3D printing technology to rapidly prototype and design live-cell imaging experiments. The modular design allows for chamber sterilization and reuse. Inclusion of thermochromic plastics provides simple temperature readout. Additive manufacturing produces high quality, leak-proof cells. The system reduces both the costs and plastic waste associated with these consumables, as it employs reusable carriers and biodegradable plastics, without sacrificing quality.


  • Live-cell imaging
  • Bespoke cell culture experiments


  • Customizable imaging experiments for well number and size – use only what is needed
  • Plastic waste mitigation
  • Thermochromic plastic temperature indicator 37-42°C
  • Most plastic components are reusable


  1. Cuny, Andreas P., et al. Biophysics Reviews 3.2 (2022): 021302.
  2. Goss, Siobhan, et al. PloS one 17.6 (2022): e0269345.

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