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Benefits of Using Foldable Paper Microscopes

Benefits of Using Foldable Paper Microscopes

Researchers working in the field are used to carrying equipment with them, but old-fashioned microscopes are heavy, complex, expensive, and fragile. They don’t handle moisture well, and field conditions are tough on traditional glass slides and lenses. And many older microscopes weren’t useful without electricity to power their built-in lights.

In 2011, Manu Prakash of Stanford University visited Thailand and observed clinics that had microscopes, but never used them. The scopes were so expensive that no one dared touch them. Realizing the absurdity of locking up scientific instruments because of their cost, he came up with a better solution. The Foldscope, a foldable paper microscope, was born in Prakash’s lab at Stanford University. Since then, thousands of Foldscopers have joined the Microcosmos, a community of curious, adventurous Foldscope users who love to share their discoveries. From the youngest schoolkids to their grandparents, these Foldscope users know the benefits of using foldable paper microscopes.


Foldscopes are inexpensive. They can be produced for around $1.75 per unit. They are extremely low-maintenance and are easily replaced at low cost. Foldscope’s mission is to make science and STEM education equitable and accessible for everyone. Making a microscope out of (waterproof) paper makes that mission a reality.


Portable microscopes fit into a pocket. They don’t require a fancy, heavy case, and you don’t need electricity to use one effectively. Exploration is easier and far more exciting when you can examine your discoveries right where you make them, and indulge your curiosity the moment you come across something interesting that warrants a closer look.


Foldscopes are meant to work independently, but they can attach to cellphones to add magnification and share images to databases. Foldscope’s designers wanted to be sure that users didn’t have to buy any extra, expensive gear to make their microscope work. However, they realized that making them compatible with smartphones could enhance the experience of using this inexpensive instrument.

Everyone Can Have Their Own

Schools with limited resources often had to require students to share microscopes. Not with Foldscope. These paper microscopes are so inexpensive that every student can have one of their own. That way, they can dive right into exploring and observing without having to wait in line. They can then share and compare their observations with classmates. They can also join Foldscope’s Microcosmos individually or with their whole class to share their discoveries and learn more about what others have found.

The benefits of using foldable paper microscopes become obvious as soon as you receive one and put it together. If you just can’t wait to indulge your scientific curiosity, order a pre-assembled Foldscope and get started using it right away.