Micro Manipulator

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017


So, when I schlepped an expensive Prior micro-manipulator all the way over to the UK from the US by post and found a better way to achieve its intended purpose, I was convinced that it was destined for the 'dumb purchases' pile, but I've found a pretty nice use for it. So I think it's worth a brief write up.

Prior Micro-manipulator

Prior Micro-manipulator, initially thought to be a mistake purchase but I've found a reasonable use for it in pinning insects very precisely.

Micro-manipulators are often used in semi conductor construction in high-tech electronics. You do have to hunt around a bit to find spares for these though, as the Prior company no makes any products in the UK so the US is your best bet.

Taking the thing apart and fiddling with some of the bits let me change it so that I could fit an insect pin into the end, and I've now got a tool that lets me position a pin with ruthless precision under a stereo microscope. Hallelujah.

A Micro-Manipulator?

A micro manipulator is a device used in laboratories to position things very precisely, and they can work in 2d or 3d.

Micro-manipulators are often used in semi conductor construction in high-tech electronics.

I had the stunningly bad idea of using one of these to make a custom insect stage but this was utterly rubbish and abandoned days after I'd bought this thing.

Macro Micro-Manipulator

In the end I found a use for it, and it helped to solve one of the things that I have the most problems with. Namely, pushing a pin into an insect to be able to photograph it, in such a way as to achieve exactly the placement I need, in order to avoid being able to see the pin in the final image. Nobody likes to see a pin.

Using a Micro-Manipulator

To use a micro-manipulator for extreme macro, you need to replace the bolt in the end with a bolt that will screw all the way through and hold a pin tightly in place. For this you may need to go to a specialised nuts and bolts place.

In use, it is fairly simple - put a pin in and use the manipulator to manipulate and glue the pin into the specimen at the angle and placement you want.

This is best done using a stereo microscope as I find that it rather helps to see what you're doing.

By having the micro manipulator on a block of wood you can raise it to a level so that you just have it sitting beside your scope in a rigid position and it allows you to pin away.