Experiences with using 3D-printed part in LiHa's


Just wondering if anyone here has any experience with using 3D-printed labware/carriers in LiHa-robots? The cost of carriers and tube racks and such are wild, so I figure I’d petition my boss to buy a 3D-printer instead and just make the racks ourselves. For example a 16 tube carrier for Tecan EVO (our robot) is already made of kinda shoddy plastic, and it took me very little time to model a workable mockup in a CAD that i could iterate on.

So what I’m interested in hearing is what you guys experiences are. If you’re diligent in modelling, will subsequent prints be more or less identical to eachother? Will they work for a long time in a lab setting, or will they be worn down quickly; lets say we use ABS, since it seems to be fairly simple to print and have good qualities. Will the lack of grounding actually affect liquid detection, or is that a non-factor more or less? Any other issues?

We’re pipetting blood serum for mostly elisa, with pretty lax cleanliness requirements.


I’ve done something similar - Tecan tube racks are pretty simple if you don’t need the adjustment for different tube types.

one issue I did find is the rack design with POSID tube scanner - the engagement mechanism of the device into the carrier rail needs to be precise,

i was successful in integrating this into the design - but it was a definite point of failure over time

if you don’t have a POSID - 3D printing racks for LiHA access is pretty easy

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I’ve done some 3D printing of labware for liquid handlers and they’ve worked out well. Tube racks, a Hamilton 96 MPH tip support, and inserts for nested tip carriers (to keep blood from dripping into them). To answer your questions:

  • My experience has been positive. The tip support was a bit more complicated and required modification of the labware definition.
  • Subsequent prints were reproducible for my application, though this will depend on your tolerances and 3D printer. Some of the builds I used an in house 3D printer and others I outsourced to Xometry.com.
  • The 3D printed items did stand the test of time.
  • I can’t speak with confidence to the LLD in the tube rack as it was several years ago. I think it worked OK, but I may have been using a fixed height aspirate.

Best of luck!


If you’re concerned about precision and consistency, you can always outsource the prints to an org that specializes in it.

You can generally get some incredible rates.


Look at Xometry for their ability to quote ant turn around prints fast.

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I got a ridiculously low price on prints from https://craftcloud3d.com/. One of the pieces broke in transit but I don’t know if I can fault the manufacturer for that. You have the option of choosing between shops including really inexpensive ones in China that still have fast turnaround and good quality. The part I got from them has been performing as well as I need.

You could even stack a bunch of parts in the same 3D file and get a quote on that. Their SLA printers have bigger build volumes than what Xometry offers and will most likely be a fraction of the price.


Thanks for the input, just what I’m looking for!

Our EVO lacks a posID, so then it should be simple. I did some tinkering in Tinkercad which I got to partially print at a local library, and it seems there will be little problems with tolerances even with no modelling experience.

Thanks Jburford,Luis, Brad and Stefan. I didn’t know about these services, last time I looked at local outsourcing several years ago it was bonkers expensive. But here I could get 18 racks for less than 100 euros, impressive. I think I’ll still petition my boss to buy a decent consumer printer, so I can iterate quickly, but these services could be amazing for finalizing designs in hard-to-print materials/SLA etc… And it’s a solid plan B too if we cant budget it :slight_smile:

Adding in, I’ve designed and printed lots of carriers for Tecans, SBS tube racks, etc.and they’ve all worked out. Even with the “small” Ultimaker 2 I was using there are ways to print larger parts and join them together.

You sound like you’re interested in the iteration so definitely push for getting a printer for the lab!