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3D printed skull base generated from CT scan data accurately demonstrates complex skull base anatomy.

Dr. Mike


blog-0957972001398879423.jpgThe base of the skull is one of the most complex and difficult parts of the body for doctors in training to master. And one of the most important. It is comprised of multiple bones (the ethmoid, sphenoid, occipital, frontal, parietal, and temporal, to be exact) and has numerous foramina (holes) through which arteries, veins, and the vital cranial nerves and spinal cord exit the skull on their way to and from the body.


These structures, although very small, are critically important clinically. Compromise of a tiny foramen (hole) can lead to deafness, blindness, paralysis, or even stroke or death. Because of the importance of this small space, medical students around the world struggle to learn the complexities and subtleties of skull base anatomy.


Unfortunately, pictures in an anatomy book just don't cut it. Real human skulls can demonstrate this anatomy well, but these are expensive and the skull has to be cut and opened in order to display the relevant anatomy. This is why I created a 3D printed skull base from real CT scan data.


Available in full size and half-size models, the skull base exhibits exquisite anatomical detail. Digital files of the skull base are available for free download in full size (STL, COLLADA) and half-size (STL, COLLADA) versions.


Very high resolution prints are available for a fee at Shapeways in both full-size and half-size. The half-size model is quite inexpensive so you don't have to worry if it is damaged by rough handling of multiple students.


In the near future I will be posting more anatomical digital models.


skull base HD

skull base Top view

skull base detail 3

skull base detail 1

skull base detail 2

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Recommended Comments

Guest Kamal Shehad


We are interested to print in 3d with ABS material some anatomy human organs such as the skull in a single part as well as in multi-parts to be addressed to the medicine faculty students.


We are looking for stl or obj medicine models which we can use to print an outstanding quality.


Thanks for your comments.



Kamal Shehad/Managing Director

Omega Co.


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Thanks for your interest. Feel free to download the STL files from the File Vault section of the website. I printed these using a Z printer. I'm not sure how they would turn out using ABS with fused deposition, but give it a try and please let us know how it goes. 


If you create your own 3D models, please share them as I have in the File Vault.

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It looks great! Is there another material which you can 3d print these skulls? How about an off-white color?


How much would it cost to print a full anatomical skull?

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For this type of model, this type of white


It looks great! Is there another material which you can 3d print these skulls? How about an off-white color?


How much would it cost to print a full anatomical skull?

For this type of model, the white powder material used by z printers is probably best because it provides some support during the printing process. Shapeways will print a high quality model for you pretty much as cheap as can be made. The full-size version is $259.99 here . The cost is primarily due to the large amount of material that is used. A half size version uses much less material and is thus much cheaper, costing $34.99 here.


If you want to download the file and try printing yourself, you can try PLA or ABS filament in virtually any color. Internal support structures are hard to do with FDM printers like Makerbot, but it is worth a try. If you try this yourself please report back to us about how it went.

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