Novel mass spectrometry (MS) based analytical platforms have enabled scientists to detect and quantify molecules within biological and environmental samples more accurately. Novel MS instrumentation starts as a prototype and, after years of development, can become a commercial product to be used by the larger MS community. Without the initial prototype, many MS-based instruments today would not be produced. Additionally, biotechnology companies are the main drivers for research, development, and production of novel instruments, but the tools for prototyping instrumentation have never been more accessible. Here, we present a tutorial on prototyping instrumentation through the case study of developing the Next Generation IR-MALDESI source to show that an engineering degree is not required to design and construct a prototype instrument with modern hardware and software. We discuss the prototyping process, the necessary skills required for efficient prototyping, and information about common hardware and software used within initial prototypes.

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