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Dr. Mike

Software used in anthropology 3D printing

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I am curious about what type of software anthropologists and other pure scientists are using for 3D printing? In clinical medicine the Mimics software suite has been pushed hard by Materialise and is growing in hospitals, but is very expensive. I know some researchers are using 3D Slicer. Any other thoughts?

 

 

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I am currently using Mimics to generate skull and face models for my research project. It does come with 3-matic which is supposed to facilitate processing of models for printing, but I haven't had a chance to learn it. For the few things I've printed so far, I exported .stl files from Mimics and cleaned them up in Meshlab. I have used 3DSlicer, but primarily the Grayscale Model Maker rather than the Model Maker. I haven't found great settings for the Model Maker and I'm not sure if it gives you the editing power that Mimics does. The Grayscale Model Maker creates surfaces which works well for "complete" bones. Extra pieces can be removed easily in Meshlab.

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Thanks for your informative post. If you don't mind my asking, how much is the licensing cost for the Mimics suite? I have had several members tell me that the Mimics software cost is a big problem and creates a significant barrier to more widespread adoption of 3D printing in research. Any thoughts?

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I believe the base price is around $9k, but they might add a discount if you buy more than one license, and then of course each module has an additional price. I wrote it into my current grant since I had used it before and I really like the Simulation Module for measuring. I also like the editing power--after creating a segmentation mask, I can scroll through the slices and perform local thresholds or edit pixels to recover/fill areas of thin bone that I need. I haven't found that level of editing in other programs. 

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That price is really steep for most people. Mimics is great but so expensive! I am working hard to bring 3D printing to everyone, and have written a few tutorials on how to do medical 3D printing with free or open source software. It may not be as slick as Mimics, but for the beginner on a shoestring budget, is a nice place to start.

 

Thanks for the input Terrie! We appreciate and value your expert opinions!

 

Dr. Mike

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It is definitely not the software to buy just for 3D printing (3D Slicer is the way to go for that), but for research and other advanced functions, it's great!

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To create and print 3D models you need 4 types of software:
Defining and Finding the Object (Online Communities o Components libraries)
3D modeling (CAD software)
Slicing (CAM software)
3D Printing (Client Software)

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