The potential of rapid, quantitative, and sensitive diagnosis has led to many innovative 'lab on chip' technologies for point of care diagnostic applications. Because these chips must be designed within strict cost constraints to be widely deployable, recent research in this area has produced extremely novel non-conventional micro- and nano-fabrication innovations. These advances can be leveraged for other biological assays as well, including for custom assay development and academic prototyping. The technologies reviewed here leverage extremely low-cost substrates and easily adoptable ways to pattern both structural and biological materials at high resolution in unprecedented ways. These new approaches offer the promise of more rapid prototyping with less investment in capital equipment as well as greater flexibility in design. Though still in their infancy, these technologies hold potential to improve upon the resolution, sensitivity, flexibility, and cost-savings over more traditional approaches. © 2010 The Author(s).