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3D Printing

NIH 3D Print Exchange

Using DICOM data

Advanced medical image data visualization in the form of 3D printing continues to expand in clinical settings. In order to generate patient-specific anatomic models for 3D printing, imaging data must first be segmented and converted to virtual 3D models which represent the intended anatomy of interest.

This presentation gives an overview of 3D printing technologies used in medicine and discusses the process of converting medical imaging data into printable 3D models. Examples are given using 3D Slicer –an open source program.


Preferred file formats:

  • STL is the most compatible file format for the library's MakerBot printer
  • PDB file format is often used for crystal structures. VMD is free software for Windows and Macs that makes it easy to convert PDB files into STL format.

Painting your model

  • MakerBot PLA Filament is easily painted with cellulose spray paints or oil paints, though acrylic paints are considered to be the best choice.
  • For the most even colors and longest lasting effect, prime the surface with a non-toxic, water-based acrylic paint designed for use on plastic, metal, and resin.

Cleaning up  your printed model: removing print support material

Find a 3D Model

3D modelling software and apps

Create a 3D model

Fix an STL file