Open hardware: From DIY trend to global transformation in access to laboratory equipment

PLoS Biol. 2023 Jan 17;21(1):e3001931. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001931. eCollection 2023 Jan.


Open hardware solutions are increasingly being chosen by researchers as a strategy to improve access to technology for cutting-edge biology research. The use of DIY technology is already widespread, particularly in countries with limited access to science funding, and is catalyzing the development of open-source technologies. Beyond financial accessibility, open hardware can be transformational for the access of laboratories to equipment by reducing dependence on import logistics and enabling direct knowledge transfer. Central drivers to the adoption of appropriate open-source technologies in biology laboratories around the world are open sharing, digital fabrication, local production, the use of standard parts, and detailed documentation. This Essay examines the global spread of open hardware and discusses which kinds of open-source technologies are the most beneficial in scientific environments with economic and infrastructural constraints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Laboratories*
  • Technology*

Grant support

This work is part of funded projects granted to T.W. from ANID FONDECYT Iniciación 11200666 ( and the CZI project ‘Latin American Hub for Bioimaging Through Open Hardware’ ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.