3D printed scientific models

Last month I traveled to Maryland for the 2015 Bioinformatics & Computational Biosciences Festival, Science-In-3D.  The industry-wide festival featured presentations about the emerging role of 3D technology by noted experts in academia, government and the industry.  The event included speakers and, as a Shapeways Crew member, I was representing Shapeways in the exhibitor space and gave a talk during the final lightning round of presentations.

3D printed scientific models, molecules, DNA model

3D printed cell and DNA models at Science in 3D

I’ve used Shapeways to sell fashionable hats, goods, pen holders and color proteins through my Shapeways shop, but I have also used it to 3D print models which have enabled me to build incredible models for the science community, including the NIH 3D Print Exchange, and as proof-of-concept to secure business contracts for processing medical scan data for private commercial websites and corporations.

3D printed scientific models

Melanie Robinson of Molecular Jig Games and Michael Astra from XVIVO admiring 3D printed molecules at Science in 3D

While I enjoy freelancing as a designer and working on various collaborations, I love demonstrating how everyone can print anatomical models with very little investment using open source software packages and Shapeways.

For example, I created these hearts just for the NIH Science in 3D festival:

3D printed heart, anatomical model, science

3D printed hearts in Frosted Ultra Detail and White Strong Flexible plastic

I found the models on the NIH 3D Print Exchange, and 3D printed them with Shapeways in Frosted Ultra Detail (left) and white strong and flexible nylon plastic (right).

To learn more about how to use data like that available from the NIH 3D Print Exchange to create printable models, I created this tutorial specifically geared towards modelers interested in printing anatomical models.

How to Close Holes and Clean Large 3D Models – Part 1 from Christopher Leggett on Vimeo.

The exhibition featured many different models available from Shapeways, created by designers who are scientists and others who have a keen interest in science. You can see more in this display video I created with Jeremy Swan, a contractor with the NIH. The models you can see in the video below include: White and red blood cells by Somersault 18:24, DNA Molecule and Antibody model by FabMOL, Tardigrade by Raw Legend Collaborations, Gyro the Cube by Virtox, and a tree moth and Morton the Elephant by HiLobster.

I also presented Chris’s Histone Protein model renders, which are also available on the NIH 3D exchange.

3D printed, molecules, cells, science

The Shapeways table at Science in 3D

As the science and medical world continues to explore many different applications for 3D printing, I’m interested to hear from other scientists and science fans on Shapeways – how are you using 3D printing? How would you like to?