The 3Drive is lightweight, with a small footprint that makes it perfect for freely behaving and head-fixed animals. It is easy to use, and was designed to minimize the risk of silicon probe damage. It’s literally armor for your probes - protecting the probe before and during the experiment. And with some practice, the probes can be recovered when you're done.

3Drive works with the most common silicon probe design for chronic recordings, which comprises a flexible polyimide cable. One advantage of the flex cable assembly is that it reduces the mechanical coupling between the probe itself and the connector/headstage/tether cable.

Assembly: the chronic probe’s flex cable simply ‘clicks’ into the drive’s shuttle. A drop of glue is then added for safety and the bottom half of the drive is covered by a protective cap. This creates a secure space to retract the probe shanks.


Dimensions Travel distance Resolution Weight
Base: 5 × 6 mm, height: 16.7 mm
9 mm
62.5 µm per 1/4 turn
0.43 g (0.38 g main body and 0.05 g protective cap)

Publications using our drives

  • Species: Rats

  • Paradigm: Freely moving / behaving animals

  • Implanted three 3Drives simultaneously

  • Species: Rats

  • Paradigm: Freely moving / behaving animals

  • Implanted three 3Drives simultaneously

  • Optogenetic stimulation

Thanks to scidraw.io and its contributors for the icons! If you want to use some of the modified ones and like to have the vector graphics, just get in touch!

How do we compare?

Choosing the right microdrive depends very much on your application, as each design comes with different trade-offs. The 3Drive’s main advantages are the ability to recover your probes intact, compatibility with most chronic probe models, and our competitive pricing. Below we made a comparative table with the 2 main microdrives commercially available.
3Dneuro 3Drive Neuronexus dDrive Cambridge Neurotech nano-Drive
Reusability drive
Probe protected during implant surgery
Possible to recover probe
Cost of drive
Screw precision (1/4 turn)
Travel distance (mm)
Multiple drives/animal
Footprint (mm)
12.5x11.5-13.5 (with protective cap)
Weight (g)
0.36-0.75 (with protective cap)

(1) Data accurate as of May 8, 2018, to our knowledge. Please let us know if you are aware of any changes. 
(2) Green denotes – when relevant – which drive performs best for a given parameter. 
(3) Screw precision: Neuronexus has 3 drive sizes, thus the range for screw precision, travel distance, footprint and weight. 
(4) Multiple drives/animal: Here we consider the rat model. For mice, it is possible – but extremely difficult – to fit 2 nano-Drives or 3Drives, assuming your target areas have a spatial configuration that leaves enough working surface for the microdrives. 
(5) *Footprint: In principle, the nano-Drive and smallest dDrive without protective cap are more versatile for different experiments, as they have a smaller footprint. In practice, to achieve that footprint, they have to sacrifice probe protection and recovery, while making the surgery much more complex and unpredictable.

Accessories for microdrives

Multipurpose crown

There are many ways to protect your implants. Trying to find a balance between flexibility and ease, we developed the multipurpose crown. This protective frame, implanted around your drive, provides an in-built holder for an Omnetics connector, as well as a light support structure for a Faraday cage. The design also optionally features two contact points that enable stable head fixation for behaving mice. See a short video for how to handle the crown here.



To handle your probes with maximum safety.

Probe breakage can happen at any time while you handle them. Indeed, to minimize tissue damage, probe shanks are manufactured as thin as possible, making them fairly fragile. Once your probe is mounted onto the 3Drive, it is safe. Before that, to minimize the risk of breakage, proper tools and procedures are needed. That is why we have developed our holders.


This holder was designed to securely mount your probe on the 3Drive.


See rendering.This holder is used during the implant surgery. It attaches to your stereotaxic arm, and includes 2 hooks that serve as support for the connector.

Starter kit

All you need to get going.

Two 3Drives

Armor for your probes, twice. 

Two holders

One assembly holder, and one implantation holder.

Surgery protocol

Including how to mount and recover your probes. Developed for single 3Drive in mouse, but can be adapted to various preparations.


We support you in developing your own implant surgery protocol.

Head fixation and VR accessories

Originally, our multipurpose crown has been designed to work with a head-fixation system. 3D printed versions in a tough resin work well for electrophysiology. When we were asked to make head plates for 2-photon calcium imaging, we first tried to recycle our existing design. For increased robustness, we moved to machined metal head plates. Together with a light-shield, they allow for fast head fixation and no light pollution during imaging with water immersed objectives. We now share this system as open hardware.  

We are currently developing a spherical treadmill for VR. Coming soon.  

Custom implants and tools

Sometimes, all that is out there is just not right for your needs. We’re happy to help in adjusting existing implant designs for your experiment. And if nothing exists that works for you, we can discuss how to make something completely new.

At the moment (June 2020) we are at full capacity in terms of custom projects. If you have a design challenge, contact us anyways!  Through the form, email: contact AT 3dneuro DOT com or by finding us on Twitter