With help from a rapid manufacturing firm, Echo Laboratories Inc. has introduced a combined upright and inverted microscope aimed at reducing lab equipment costs. Proto Labs Inc. of Maple Plain, Minn., recognized Echo Laboratories with its Cool Idea! Award, a service grant covering machining of aluminum parts for both prototyping and low-volume production to fulfill early orders. Parts included components for the microscope’s XY specimen stage, a motorized LED fluorescence module and a precision focus drive. Called the Revolve, the microscope transforms between upright and inverted configurations. It also replaces the traditional microscope eyepiece with an iPad, whose touch screen interface simplifies the gathering of images. Developed by Echo Laboratories, the Revolve combines both an upright and an inverted microscope into one instrument. Courtesy of Proto Labs. Priced about the same as a traditional, research-grade microscope, the Revolve potentially eliminates the need to purchase separate instruments. Because upright microscopes are typically used for viewing glass slides, while inverted microscopes are used for viewing live samples in dishes, many laboratories own both kinds, according to Proto Labs. The Revolve officially went on the market this month, and is being used by researchers at universities, biotechnology and pharma companies, according to Eugene Cho, CEO and founder of Echo Laboratories. For more information, visit www.protolabs.com and www.echo-labs.com.