Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director The Open-Source Hardware Laboratory
Dr. Eric Lima received his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering in 2008 from Columbia University. His research focused on the regeneration of cartilage and bone using living cells. He built custom-designed bioreactors for orthopedic applications. At Cooper Union he continues his tissue engineering research while bringing hands-on teaching and design expertise to the classroom. Dr. Lima teaches basic design classes that utilize milling machines, welders, lathes, and other large equipment. Students then combine these mechanical instruments with electrical components and computer programs to prototype their ideas. He is active in the open-source hardware community and is building a library of open-source designs for equipment used in a laboratory.
Projects & Links
Open Source Electrospinning Device
Developed as part of the Open Source Laboratory initiative, the electrospinning device is used in the production of nano- and micro-scale fibers. A syringe filled with a polymer solution is mounted on a syringe pump, which slowly pumps out droplets of solution. A strong electric field is set up in an enclosure using a high voltage power source. The electrostatic forces produced by this field propel the droplets from the tip of the syringe, spinning it into fibers which are then collected on a rotating mandrel or a collector plate.
The impetus for this initiative is to make transparent the technology essential to cutting-edge fields, such as bioemedical engineering and polymer material science - accessible to everyone and feasible to implement at a low cost.
Visit the project site for further details about the setup, bill of materials, assembly and safety information.
Open Source Test Tube Spinner
The Cooper Union's Open Laboratory Initiative aims to develop open source alternatives for traditionally expensive, specialized machinery. In striving for this goal, the Open Source Test Tube Spinner was developed.
The device is built from basic electronic components, a 12V gear motor and a laser cut ABS body. The design features an ability to hold multiple test tubes of three standard sizes. It is highly customizable, compact, easy to build and most importantly, accessible to everyone in the spirit of open source development.
Visit the project site for more information and to download the design blueprints.
Open Source Hydrostatic Pressure Loader
Developed in collaboration with Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Open Source Hydrostatic Pressure Loader helps researchers cyclically load cell cultures under hydrostatic pressure. As part of Cooper Union's Open Source Laboratory Initiative, the design blueprints are accessible to everyone for free, replacing the need for expensive traditional machines. Most notably, and to the benefit of researchers at both Mount Sinai and Cooper Union, it achieves its goal without requiring the use of an expensive Instron machine.
The design features an acrylic incubator with a hinged ceiling and/or a front door, and a piston and pressure vessel made from "off-the-shelf" parts.
Visit the project site to view a demo of the device in use, the testing procedure, bill of materials, and code.
Open Source Mechanical Tester using CNC Machine
The goal of this project is to create an automated mechanical tester which takes advantage of the high level of precision of existing CNC machines. The team achieved this by designing a load cell attachment to fix on to the spindle on the CNC machine, as well as writing a program that leverages the machine's software driver. The result is a precise, automated, low-cost solution that equips researchers with the means to stress test their prototypes without expensive, dedicated machinery.
The CAD models of the load cell attachment as well as the latest version of the control program are available on the project site.
Cooper Union's Invention Factory is a summer program for Cooper Union engineering students. Students have six weeks to work intensively with a partner on an invention of their choice. Each team is provided a budget of up to $2,000 for components as well as access to and training on laser cutters and 3D printers, the machine shop and machinists.