The open source hardware movement has taken off in the last decade due to the decreasing price of 3D printers, open source software, and the availability of open source electronics (Pearce). In addition to the cost savings of making one's own hardware, it also has the appeal of distributive justice (Allhoff). Physics and materials science in particular suffer from need of expensive equipment and infrastructure to maintain relevance. Electron microscopes, vacuum pumps and stainless steel chambers are expensive, each ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to tens of millions. The way that scientific resources are distributed to researchers, students, and the public could be radically altered with the use of open hardware. In addition to significant cost reduction, the ability to build one's own equipment increases the knowledge and confidence levels of a larger group of people than would otherwise be impacted.
At left is the working 3D printer and PRG team members assigned to this project (circa May 2019). From left, Dr. Patterson, Rand Dickson, Louis Bischel and Vincent Portuese. Nichole Cassell (not pictured) has since also been instrumental on this project. At right is the first print, a simple cube with letters on each face.