Instrument Design Center

The machine shop is responsible for the custom design and construction of prototype apparatus, along with the maintenance or alteration of existing equipment used in teaching and research activities of the department. We work closely with researchers to develop laboratory instruments to best suit their individual needs.


Design, Development, and Production

The majority of our work is making custom instruments and devices for the PBS researchers. We have a lot of experience with instruments used in psychological and neuroscience research.


  • CNC machining
  • Lathe, mill, drill press
  • Sheet metal services
  • Fully stocked electronics workshop
  • 3D printing
  • Welding
  • Glassworking

Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures: If you have a novel idea or design, feel free to come talk to us about it. We are very familiar with the Hopkins Technology Transfer procedures, and would be more than happy to help transfer your ideas into prototypes.


The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences’ shop is maintained for the construction and maintenance of equipment for use in the teaching and research activities of the department, and as a facility for training students in the design and construction of apparatus. The Instrument Designer is Mr. Jim Garmon (Ames 130). The shop is available on a case-by-case basis to lab managers and graduate students who have the knowledge and ability to operate the machines and tools safely and in accordance with accepted shop practices. For reasons of safety and efficiency in the shop, the rules listed below must be followed:

  1. Design and construction of apparatus.
    1. The Instrument Designer is available for consultation about apparatus, both to design equipment for specific problems, and to obtain information about the availability of commercial equipment for the application in question. As a rule, you should first ask if equipment already available can be used as it is or with minor modification for the purpose at hand. If not, commercial sources should be investigated. Equipment should be constructed in the shop only if it is not practical to purchase it from commercial sources.
    2. If you decide to construct equipment in the shop, the following procedure should be followed:
      1. Any materials you may need will be ordered by the instrument designer, and when the materials are on hand and the shop schedule permits work on the project, you will be notified.
      2. The instrument designer will instruct you in the techniques necessary for the completion of the project and oversee the work, performing those operations which are beyond your skills.
    3. Equipment in need of repair should be brought to the shop promptly, even though it may not be needed for some time. The procedure to be used in arranging repair and maintenance work is essentially the same as that outlined above.
  2. Lab managers and students using the shop should adhere to the following rules:
    1. All work is to be overseen by the instrument designer. You must never use shop equipment without first consulting him.
    2. Before using any machines in the shop, you should learn how to use them from the instrument designer or demonstrate to him that you can use them in accord with accepted safety standards and shop practices.
    3. Explicit permission from the instrument designer must be obtained before using bench space and shop tools assigned to shop personnel. A work bench and commonly used tools are available for use by occasional users of the shop. Users of this facility are responsible for keeping the bench in good condition and returning tools and supplies to their proper places.
    4. Supplies should not be taken from shop stock without notifying the instrument designer. Breakage or damage to tools or equipment should be reported promptly so that replacement can be effected.
    5. Some machines, regardless of prior experience or training, are only to be used by the instrument designer.

Funding for the instrument designer and the shop comes from faculty research grants, which pay both his salary and for the supplies that are used. Whatever you can do to make your project proceed efficiently will help reduce costs and will be appreciated. The shop should be used only for professionally related activities, and not personal jobs.