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  1. Please note that any references to “Imag3D” in this tutorial has been replaced with “democratiz3D” In this tutorial you will learn how to create multiple 3D printable bone models simultaneously using the free online CT scan to bone STL converter, democratiz3D. We will use the free desktop program Slicer to convert our CT scan in DICOM format to NRRD format. We will also make a small section of the CT scan into its own NRRD file to create a second stand-alone model. The NRRD files will then be uploaded to the free democratiz3D online service to be converted into 3D printable STL models. If you haven't already, please see the tutorial A Ridiculously Easy Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes, which provides a good overview of the democratiz3D service. You should download the file pack that accompanies this tutorial. This contains an anonymized DICOM data set that will allow you to follow along with the tutorial. >>> DOWNLOAD THE TUTORIAL FILE PACK <<< Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3D account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download. Step 2: Create NRRD Files from DICOM with Slicer Open Slicer, which can be downloaded for free from www.slicer.org. Take the folder that contains your DICOM scan files and drag and drop it onto the slicer window, as shown in Figure 1. If you downloaded the tutorial file pack, a complete DICOM data set is included. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory. Remember, this only works with CT scans. MRIs cannot be converted at this time. Figure 1: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan. A NRRD file that encompasses the entire scan can easily be created by clicking the save button at this point. Before we do that however, we are going to create a second NRRD file that only contains the lumbar spine, which will allow us to create a second 3D printable bone model of the lumbar spine. Open the CT scan by clicking on the Show DICOM Browser button, selecting the scan and series within the scan, and clicking the Load button. The CT scan will then load within the multipanel viewer. From the drop-down menu at the top left of the Slicer window, select All Modules and then Crop Volume, as shown in Figure 2. You will now want to create a Region Of Interest (ROI) to encompass the smaller volume we want to make. Turn on the ROI visibility button and then under the Input ROI drop-down menu, select "Create new AnnotationROI," As shown in Figure 3. Figure 2: Choosing the Crop Volume module Figure 3: Turn on ROI visibility and Create a new AnnotationROI under the Input ROI drop-down menu. A small cube will then be displayed in the blue volume window. This represents the sub volume that will be made. In its default position, the cube may not overlay the body, and may need to be dragged downward. Grab a control point on the cube and drag it downward (inferiorly) as shown in Figure 4. Figure 4: Grab the sub volume ROI and drag it downwards until it overlaps with the body. Next, use the control points on the volume box to position the volume box over the portion of the scan you wish to be included in the small 3D printable model, as shown in Figure 5. Figure 5: Adjusting the control points on the crop volume box. Once you have the box position where you want it, initiate the volume crop by clicking the Crop! button, as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6: The Crop! button You have now have two scan volumes that can be 3D printed. The first is the entire scan, and the second is the smaller sub volume that contains only the lumbar spine. We are now going to save those individual volumes as NRRD files. Click the Save button in the upper left-hand corner. In the Save Scene window, uncheck all items that do not have NRRD as the file format, as shown in Figure 7. Only NRRD file should be checked. Be sure to specify the directory that you want each file to be saved in. Figure 7: The Save Scene window Your NRRD files should now be saved in the directory you specified. Step 3: Upload your NRRD files and Convert to STL Files Using the Free democratiz3D Service Launch your web browser and go to www.embodi3d.com. If you haven't already register for a account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Click on the democratiz3D navigation item and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 8. Figure 8: launching the democratiz3D application. Drag-and-drop both of your NRRD files onto the upload panel. Fill in the required fields, including a title, short description, privacy setting (private versus shared), and license type. You must agree to the terms of use. Please note that even though license type is a required field, it only matters if the file is shared. If you keep the file private and thus not available to other members on the site, they will not see it nor be able to download it. Be sure to turn on the democratiz3D Processing slider! If you don't turn this on your file will not be processed but will just be saved in your account on the website. It should be green when turned on. Once you turn on democratiz3D Processing, you'll be presented with some basic processing options, as shown in Figure 9. Leave the default operation as "CT NRRD to Bone STL," which is the operation that creates a basic bone model from a CT scan in NRRD format. Threshold is the Hounsfield attenuation to use for selecting the bones. The default value of 150 is good for most applications, but if you have a specialized model you wish to create, you can adjust this value. Quality denotes the number of polygons in your output file. High-quality may take longer to process and produce larger files. These are more appropriate for very large or detailed structures, such as an entire spinal column. Low quality is best for small structures that are geometrically simple, such as a patella. Medium quality is balanced, and is appropriate for most circumstances. Figure 9: The democratiz3D File Processing Parameters. Once you are satisfied with your processing parameters, click submit. Both of your nrrd files will be processed in two separate bone STL files, as shown in Figure 10. The process takes 10 to 20 minutes and you will receive an email notifying you that your files are ready. Please note, the stl processing will finish first followed by the images. Click on the thumbnails for each model to access the file for download or click the title. Figure 10: Two files have been processed simultaneously and are ready for download Step 4: CT scan conversion is complete your STL bone model files are ready for 3D Printing That's it! Both of your bone models are ready for 3D printing. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please use the democratiz3D service and SHARE the files you create with the community by changing their status from private or shared. Thank you very much and happy 3D printing!
  2. Please note the democratiz3D service was previously named "Imag3D" In this tutorial you will learn how to quickly and easily make 3D printable bone models from medical CT scans using the free online service democratiz3D. The method described here requires no prior knowledge of medical imaging or 3D printing software. Creation of your first model can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. You can download the files used in this tutorial by clicking on this link. You must have a free Embodi3D member account to do so. If you don't have an account, registration is free and takes a minute. It is worth the time to register so you can follow along with the tutorial and use the democratiz3D service. >> DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL FILES AND FOLLOW ALONG << Both video and written tutorials are included in this page. Before we start you'll need to have a copy of a CT scan. If you are interested in 3D printing your own CT scan, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figures 1 and 2 show the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available. Figure 1: The radiology department window at my hospital. Figure 2: An example of what a DVD containing a CT scan looks like. This looks like a standard CD or DVD. Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3d account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download. Step 2: Create an NRRD file with Slicer If you haven't already done so, go to slicer.org and download Slicer for your operating system. Slicer is a free software program for medical imaging research. It also has the ability to save medical imaging scans in a variety of formats, which is what we will use it for in this tutorial. Next, launch Slicer. Insert your CD or DVD containing the CT scan into your computer and open the CD with File Explorer or equivalent file browsing application for your operating system. You should find a folder that contains numerous DICOM files in it, as shown in Figure 3. Drag-and-drop the entire DICOM folder onto the Slicer welcome page, as shown in Figure 4. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory. Figure 3: A typical DICOM data set contains numerous individual DICOM files. Figure 4: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan. Once Slicer has finished loading the study, click the save icon in the upper left-hand corner as shown in Figure 5. One of the files in the list will be of type NRRD. make sure that this file is checked and all other files are unchecked. click on the directory button for the NRRD file and select an appropriate directory to save the file. then click Save, as shown in Figure 6. Figure 5: The Save button Figure 6: The Save File box The NRRD file is much better for uploading then DICOM. Instead of having multiple files in a DICOM data set, the NRRD file encapsulates the entire study in a single file. Also, identifiable patient information is removed from the NRRD file. The file is thus anonymized. This is important when sending information over the Internet because we do not want identifiable patient information transmitted. Step 3: Upload the NRRD file to Embodi3D Now go to www.embodi3d.com, click on the democratiz3D navigation menu and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 7. Drag and drop your NRRD file where indicated. While NRRD file is uploading, fill in the "File Name" and "About This File" fields, as shown in Figure 8. Figure 7: Launching the democratiz3D application Figure 8: Uploading the NRRD file and entering basic information To complete basic information about your NRRD file. Do you want it to be private or do you want to share it with the community? Click on the Private File button if the former. If you are planning on sharing it, do you want it to be a free or a paid (licensed) file? Click the appropriate setting. Also select the License Type. If you are keeping the file private, these settings don't matter as the file will remain private. Make sure you accepted the Terms of Use, as shown in Figure 9. Figure 9: Basic information fields about your uploaded NRRD file Next, turn on democratiz3D Processing by selecting the slider under democratiz3D Processing. Make sure the operation CT NRRD to Bone STL is selected. Leave the default threshold of 150 in place. Choose an appropriate quality. Low quality produces small files quickly but the output resolution is low. Medium quality is good for most applications and produces a relatively good file that is not too large. High quality takes the longest to process and produces large output files. Bear in mind that if you upload a low quality NRRD file don't expect the high quality setting to produce a stellar bone model. Medium quality is good enough for most applications. If you wish, you have the option to specify whether you want your output file to be Private or Shared. If you're not sure, click Private. You can always change the visibility of the file later. If you're happy with your settings, click Save & Submit Files. This is shown in Figure 10. Figure 10: Entering the democratiz3D Processing parameters. Step 4: Review Your Completed Bone Model After about 10 to 20 minutes you should receive an email informing you that your file is ready for download. The actual processing time may vary depending on the size and complexity of the file and the load on the processing servers. Click on the link within the email. If you are already on the embodied site, you can access your file by going to your profile. Click your account in the upper right-hand corner and select Profile, as shown in Figure 11. Figure 11: Finding your profile. Your processed file will have the same name as the uploaded NRRD file, except it will end in "– processed". Renders of your new 3D model will be automatically generated within about 6 to 10 minutes. From your new model page you can click "Download this file" to download. If you wish to share your file with the community, you can toggle the privacy setting by clicking Privacy in the lower right-hand corner. You can edit your file or move it from one category to another under the File Actions button on the lower left. These are shown in Figure 12. Figure 12: Downloading, sharing, and editing your new 3D printable model. If you wish to sell your new file, you can change your selling settings under File Actions, Edit Details. Set the file type to be Paid, and specify a price. Please note that your file must be shared in order for other people to see it. This is shown in Figure 13. If you are going to sell your file, be sure you select General Paid File License from the License Type field, or specify your own customized license. For more information about selling files, click here. Figure 13: Making your new file available for sale on the Embodi3D marketplace. That's it! Now you can create your own 3D printable bone models in minutes for free and share or sell them with the click of a button.If you want to download the STL file created in this tutorial, you can download it here. Happy 3D printing!