Xerox machine for DNA
Tito Jankowski from Pearl Biotech is a creator of Biotech tools — Smarter tools for the modern genetic explorer
Where are you based?
I’m living in sunny San Francisco. I moved out here in March to get closer to the garage biotech scene, and have loved every minute of it. Plus, I’m 2 blocks from a small farmer’s market on Sundays, so I’m always loading up on danishes, pasta, and awesome veggies.
I’m working with Josh Perfetto on the OpenPCR project — a xerox machine for DNA. We just launched a Kickstarter project
How did you come across Ponoko?
Well, there are a lot of people out in the world who really love the idea of what you’ve created with Ponoko. I think I heard about Ponoko first from Mac Cowell, the founder of DIYbio. It sounded like a cool service, and the OpenPCR project was perfect for laser cutting.
How did you used to make products before Ponoko?
About a year ago, I started out going to TAP plastic every week, but soon hit a ceiling. It’s pretty good, but the idea of taking a digital file in there and having them bang it out just isn’t going to happen. The project I was working on at the time (Open hardware gel electrophoresis) required crazy tolerances, ~0.001″ and TAP could only do 1/16″ so that was around the time I “graduated” from TAP. I came across two wonderful shops in the Bay Area and they’ve been working closely with me since. Problem is, their focus is more manufacturing, so when Josh Perfetto and I started the OpenPCR project started in March I knew I needed to try something new.
How would you describe your creative process
With open hardware for biotech, we’re making new and better tools for a completely new type of scientist. Sketching in a notebook, and Google sketchup and cardboard and foam board. Sketchup is awesome because it’s fairly straightforward to get into an Illustrator file to send to Ponoko.
I took my OpenPCR project into TAP plastics and the guy there said he would charge $400 for something like that (my first birch prototype was $50 from Ponoko).
Do you have any tips for other users?
If you get stuck — write for help. My first night with Ponoko took 5 hours, I just wanted to make a simple box. (As a beginner, Inkwell was really frustrating — I use Sketchup+Illustrator now). I gave up and wrote for help, and Josh walked me through every step I needed to get my box uploaded to ponoko for a price quote.