Adapting open-source online designs for the assembly of scientific equipment is useful for cost-cutting (Nature 531, 147–148; 2016). Just as important from an educational viewpoint is the resourcefulness and creativity that such 'open hardware' can stimulate in customizing it to address scientific goals.

My graduate students have used open-source electronic modules and 3D printing over the past three years to generate prototype devices for research in applied chemistry. Their limited experience in electronics is not a problem because the equipment is not expensive — plenty of open-source printed circuit boards have been discarded without denting the lab's budget. Crucially, the end products worked and furnished useful data (see also P. L. Urban Analyst 140, 963–975; 2015).