[DIYbio] Re: Why are PCR machines and biotech equipment in general so expensive

I just wanted to elaborate on this statement here:

In my personal opinion, the only value in developing yet another version of PCR is educational. 
You mean to say only educational institutes would buy? What about existing researchers, diagnostic labs and biohackers. 

When I asked around my academic workplace for old, free equipment that we could donate to our local community lab, I immediately got offered 2 functioning PCR machines. I turned them down because the community lab had 5(!) already, and in reality only actually needed one. It turns out for academic institutions, PCR machines are cheap already and new ones are bought every now and then from leftover grant money just to replace the older units in case they ever fail.

A perfectly good, new, branded PCR machine costs $1000-2000. Compare that to the cost of standard lab consumables which are like $100 for a 1 day experiment for 1 researcher, or to the cost of a simple mass spectrometer, DNA sequencer or fluorescence microscope which are easily above $100K each.

Working for years to bring down the cost a new open source PCR machine from $1000 to $800 is great, but it won't really affect academic labs and biotech companies. They will buy the same $2000 branded PCR machine anyway as for them it costs peanuts, and they realize that reliability is everything: if your branded machine is reliable 98% of the time and your open source machine only 95%, they you will easily recover the cost of the branded PCR machine in no time due to the cost saved by having to repeat less experiments.

So the only gain from developing a new PCR machine is really the learning experience you get, so the educational opportunity as said above. You cannot base a business model on it.

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