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Hello TFF,

I have been interested in micropalaeontology for a bit, especially after @Shamalama sent me some wonderful micro matrix samples along with slides for micropalaeontology. The tiny organisms like ostracods, conodonts, bryozoans and crinoids are so amazing and getting to see them under the microscope is very special.

However, I have been limited in my ability to collect these fossils due to a lack of these slides, I got two from Dave which were beautiful and very helpful but similar ones online cost quite a bit, especially since most were from outside the US.

For a while, I put this on hold and didn't expand my micro collection because of this but a couple of days ago I saw someone selling 3d printed slides on the auction site and this inspired me to make my own. I thought it would be a nice and quick solution and I can always just make more as I needed them.

I took some measurements of the glass slides I had on hand and quickly threw together a model,

This first one you cannot see in the photo below because the gaps for the glass to slide into ended up being just too narrow and my slide got stuck in it so I had to melt away the plastic and break it to retrieve it.

The second one I decided to alter the model and increase both the height and width of the gap by .5 mm, this ended up being way too big and the slides just fell out. This is the slide you see at the top of the photo.

Next, instead of tampering with the original model I just kept all the proportions and increased the size to 100.5%, this ended up being a perfect fit and would allow the glass to slide in and out while keeping it secure when needed, this is the middle slide you see in the photo, these early prototypes were done in red because this is the plastic I had the most of.

Finally to finish the model up, I added a cutout in the side to allow you to remove the glass easier and without covering it in fingerprints and started printing it in black. You can see the final version at the bottom of the photo

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These slides are fully customizable, I can make the hole in them any shape that I would want, currently I am thinking about making a version with multiple circular compartments. I could probably even add some writing on the space in the front or on the back of the slide.

I am not sure if there are any other interesting or helpful changes I can make to the model, I am open to suggestions so please tell me if you have any.

I just wanted to share this little project with everyone, maybe it will get someone inspired to make something similar or perhaps someone will just find it interesting.

Also if anyone wants it, I would love to share the files to these for anyone wanting to print some yourself, they should fit the standard glass slides for microscopes. Send me a PM if you are interested.

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Here are some quick shots I took under the microscope to show how that looks:PXL_20210302_030551226.thumb.jpg.ac7b09ee6cc38ba89dfa5fa5fd1ad534.jpgPXL_20210302_030611799.thumb.jpg.e52ea779189a5e7b01a9637016a1d74d.jpgPXL_20210302_030658152.thumb.jpg.4fea4445da25a79eba0f51a43361b1a2.jpgPXL_20210302_030720223.thumb.jpg.d9a2988fe10908802138c2a1e16db623.jpg

I expected that the layer lines of the print would be a lot more noticeable and annoying but from these shots and looking into the microscope they actually don't bother me at all. It's not very sophisticated, but I think these work as a solution, especially a temporary one

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Al Dente

Interesting. How does the cost of printing these compare with purchasing Plummer slides from a company? I think I pay about a dollar per slide which includes glass cover and aluminum sleeve. I wonder if static builds up with these plastic slides. Not a problem with bulkier fossils but tiny conodonts might shoot off the slide.

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Bob Saunders

I do not know who sells Plummer Slides in the USA? I have some micro fossils and have thought of ordering the single or double recessed glass slides and covers, but not sure how to attach the glass covers? I think with a touch of Balsum? Amscope has them with free shipping and I wouldn't likely need more than ten. 

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Al Dente
59 minutes ago, Bob Saunders said:

I do not know who sells Plummer Slides in the USA? I have some micro fossils and have thought of ordering the single or double recessed glass slides and covers, but not sure how to attach the glass covers? I think with a touch of Balsum? Amscope has them with free shipping and I wouldn't likely need more than ten. 


I don’t remember who I’ve bought from but they sell in lots of 100. The first time I bought them was in the mid 1990s and I gave most away. I bought another 100 about 8 years ago. The second batch was poorer quality than the first. Do a Google search of “micropaleontological slides” several show up.

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Kosmoceras

Really great idea, well done. Is there any way to design them so you can slot in a cardboard cut-out for specimens to be glued to? That way the foraminifera, ostracods etc can be arranged neatly on the slide.  

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3 hours ago, Al Dente said:

Interesting. How does the cost of printing these compare with purchasing Plummer slides from a company? I think I pay about a dollar per slide which includes glass cover and aluminum sleeve. I wonder if static builds up with these plastic slides. Not a problem with bulkier fossils but tiny conodonts might shoot off the slide.

Huh, I couldn't find any that cheap online, the ones I have seen have all been more expensive and from out of the US. The cost for making these is very low, a 1 kg roll of this plastic costs around 20 dollars, sometimes less. Each of these slides weighs about 6 grams so I can get over 100 of them from a single roll of plastic, I don't know exactly how much the glass slides cost but I have a lot and they're probably really cheap in bulk as well.

As for the static, I didn't think about that but that may be an issue. I have never had static be a problem with any of my other prints but if dealing with very delicate conodonts it may become one. I guess I'll just have to see how they work as I try them out.

12 minutes ago, Kosmoceras said:

Really great idea, well done. Is there any way to design them so you can slot in a cardboard cut-out for specimens to be glued to? That way the foraminifera, ostracods etc can be arranged neatly on the slide.  

Thanks! I was thinking about that as well, one idea that I had was to have a small gap in the actual model right when it starts building up the walls, if I could manipulate the code of the file to stop right before it prints those, place a little piece of paper or cardboard on the bottom of the slide and restart the print to print on top of that cardboard I think it could be possible to incorporate it right into the print. Having a slot could also be a good idea, not exactly sure how to execute that though, I would have to think about that a bit more

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2 hours ago, Al Dente said:


I don’t remember who I’ve bought from but they sell in lots of 100. The first time I bought them was in the mid 1990s and I gave most away. I bought another 100 about 8 years ago. The second batch was poorer quality than the first. Do a Google search of “micropaleontological slides” several show up.

I just did a search for this and I was able to find a site selling the cardboard for about 1 dollar each in lots of 100, is this what you were referring to? Those look pretty good but they don't include the aluminium sleeve from what I am understanding.

This actually shows a lot more results than the searches I have done previously, I will have to look through the results, previously I only searched "microfossil slides" or "plummer slides" and that only yielded a couple sites both from outside the US.

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I tried out making some slides out of white plastic because I ran out of the black, also trying different shapes and amounts of compartments.

I think these look pretty good through the microscope too, the pictures below have some volcanic sand with olivine I believe for demonstration. 

These pieces of sand were pretty fine, smaller than the fossils before. I didn't really notice static being an issue even with the tiny grains.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Al Dente

I received some conodont samples yesterday and took some time to pick through the matrix with the help of these slides.

I didn't notice any issues with static or anything else, it was a very similar experience to using the paper slides.

Here are the samples the first 4 pictures are from the Grassy Creek Shale which were labelled as Upper Devonian while the rest are New Albany Shale, also Upper Devonian.

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LabRatKing

@Bob Saunders

Good Sources for Plummer Slides and other microscope stuff that sell to non professionals in the US:

 

Carolina Biological Supply

Ward’s Scientific 

lakeside microscope supply

 

 

@Misha

 

I really like the idea of 3D printing these!

 

a suggestion, print some up as adapters that leave the well open and allow a standard glass slide to snap in for the bottom!

Then if one likes a specimen, one can pour clear resin to permanently affix it to the glass and the remove and re use the frame!

 

In addition to lower overall cost, it also allows them for use on additional types of scopes.

 

in the past, I did something similar using 4mm thick black silicone sheeting, an exacting knife, and clear epoxy to make custom Plummer slides for my work with platyhelminths.

 

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, LabRatKing said:

suggestion, print some up as adapters that leave the well open and allow a standard glass slide to snap in for the bottom!

Then if one likes a specimen, one can pour clear resin to permanently affix it to the glass and the remove and re use the frame!

I'm not too sure about using resin to fix them in place but having a slide with two sides for glass is a very cool idea!

 

I am not too sure about how to design one to print though as it wouldn't work with the current way I'm printing these since there would be way too much overhang.

 

I have to think about this a bit, but thank you for the inspiration!

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Al Dente
6 hours ago, Misha said:

I didn't notice any issues with static or anything else, it was a very similar experience to using the paper slides.


It’s good they are working out. I had a few slides that a friend gave me the had small plastic cover slips. They were horrible for loose fossils because they would stick to the cover because of the static charge.

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ThePhysicist
6 hours ago, Misha said:

am not too sure about how to design one to print though as it wouldn't work with the current way I'm printing these since there would be way too much overhang.

35988953_IMG_19372.thumb.jpeg.b48e0a0c60c0ca9893e86cac62f179a0.jpeg

 

Perhaps something like this? Just thin it out, print two, stick 'em together. (Liked the idea so I made my own :))

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2 hours ago, ThePhysicist said:

Perhaps something like this? Just thin it out, print two, stick 'em together. (Liked the idea so I made my own :))

I was thinking something like that could work.

 

I still want to experiment a bit as printing in one piece is definitely preferable but this is definitely an option to keep in mind.

 

Glad to see other trying out the idea as well!

Let me know how it goes.

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LabRatKing
On 3/13/2021 at 4:14 PM, Al Dente said:


It’s good they are working out. I had a few slides that a friend gave me the had small plastic cover slips. They were horrible for loose fossils because they would stick to the cover because of the static charge.

Plastic cover slips and uncoated slides are the bane of microscopists everywhere...however there are a few plastic disposable options designed for viewing protists and other live microinvertebrates that work extremely well for microfossils, however being disposable, they are too pricey in my opinion.

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Bob Saunders

I have drawers full of glass watch crystals down to very small ladies sizes. I will try making up a couple of slides for micros. as they will have a recessed interior.

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