Project data
Authors Iiro Hietanen
Ismo T. S. Heikkinen
Hele Savin
Location Michigan, USA
Status Designed
Verified by MOST
Aalto University
OKH Manifest Open Know-How Manifest Download
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Device data
Design files
Hardware license CERN-OHL-S
Certifications Start OSHWA certification

Three types of highly-customizable open source probe positioning systems are evaluated: (a) mostly 3-D printed, (b) partially printed using OpenBeam kinematic constraints, and (c) a 3-level stack of low-cost commercial single axis micropositioners and some printed parts. All systems use digital distributed manufacturing to enable bespoke features, which can be fabricated with RepRap-class 3-D printer and easily accessible components. They are all flexible in material choice for custom components. The micropositioners can be set up for left-right use and flat or recessed configurations using either mechanical or magnetic mounting. All systems use a manual probe holder that can be customized and enable a quick swap probe system. System (a) is purchased for $100 or fabricated for <$5, (b) fabricated for $25, and (c) fabricated for $145. Each full turn of a knob moves an axis 0.8 mm for (a) and 0.5 mm for (b,c) providing externally measured positional control of 10 microns for the latter. All three designs can utilize a customizable probe holder and tungsten carbide needle for $56. The designs are validated using microchips with known feature sizes and underwent mechanical stress tests. The maximal deflection of (a) was >200 microns, (b) 40 microns and (c) 10 microns. A tradeoff is observed for 3-D printed percent between cost and accuracy. All systems provided substantial cost savings over proprietary products with similar functionality.


  • Iiro Hietanen, Ismo T. S. Heikkinen, Hele Savin, and Joshua M. Pearce. Approaches to Open Source 3-D Printable Probe Positioners and Micromanipulators for Probe Stations. HardwareX (2018), e00042. open access
  • Open Source License (a) Cc-by-SA, (b) and (c) GNU General Public License (GPL) v3.0
  • Cost of Hardware (a) $5-99, (b) $25, (c) $145 for manipulator, with $56 probes
  • Source File Repository (designs, files, BOM, videos)

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Page data
Type Project, Device
Keywords open source hardware, gimbal system, 3-d printing, rotator, optoelectronics, transmittance, fosh; open hardware, manipulators, micromanipulator, open source scientific equipment, probe, probe holder, probe positioner, probe station, photovoltaics, optics
SDG Sustainable Development Goals SDG09 Industry innovation and infrastructure
Authors Joshua M. Pearce
Published 2018
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Affiliations MTU, MOST, Aalto University
Impact Number of views to this page and its redirects. Updated once a month. Views by admins and bots are not counted. Multiple views during the same session are counted as one. 485
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