Hemagglutinin Model printed on a ZCorp 510. Source: NIH
Hemagglutinin Model printed on a ZCorp 510. Source: NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a library of 3D printable medical files, called the NIH 3D Print Exchange. The library allows users to download, edit, and 3D print files to create customized lab equipment or models of bacteria and human anatomy.

"We created this website as kind of a way to have a YouTube-like experience, but instead of exchanging and sharing and commenting on and remixing videos, instead we are doing all of those same things with 3D-print files," said Darrell Hurt, a researcher at the Office of Cyber Infrastructure and Computational Biology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

"3D printing is helping to advance science at NIAID and beyond," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The ability to design and print tangible models of pathogens, for example, can give researchers a fresh perspective on the diseases they study and open new and promising lines of investigation."

"A researcher who's been using a computer model of this for 15 years learns something as soon as they put their hands on a real, tangible model," Hurt said.

The library also includes video tutorials and a forum for users to collaborate and share information. The site also includes handy tools that convert scientific and clinical data into ready-to-print 3D files.

"We want this to be a place where people from all different walks of life can come together and download and share," Hurt said. "Who knows what some kid somewhere might come up with in using some of the 3D-modeling software, and then share that model out, and someone half a world away may learn something."