Our goal is to empower researchers, physicians, and the public with high-quality, informative models that inspire new discoveries that transform science and health care.
Specialized 3D models are invaluable in the visualization of existing problems and are capable of sparking ideas leading to new discoveries, and we wanted to make them available to a broader audience.
The team built the NIH 3D Print Exchange, a public website with a unique set of tools and data to discover, create, and share 3D models related to biomedical science. The Exchange provides models in formats that are readily compatible with 3D printers. It is also a community-driven environment where users are enabled with the tools and skills to create their own 3D models and are encouraged to share their own innovations with the community.
The most novel part of the site is our suite of custom, web-based tools that automatically translate scientific or medical 3D data into ready-to-print 3D models. Furthermore, we built an in-browser 3D visualizer that supports color content for 3D print files. No other 3D print repository offers this feature, but it is critical for demonstrating the important details of molecular, chemical, and anatomical structures that lead to biomedical discoveries.
Since the public launch in 2014, the Exchange has grown to 40,000 3D-printable files, 2,500 pages of published models, over 4,600 registered users, and 7,500 unique users per month visiting the site.
By democratizing access to custom and on-demand files, users of all levels are now able to focus their time on less tedious and more productive research and discovery while at the same time exponentially increasing the number of 3D printable models available to the community.