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3D Printing and Design Tutorials

This page summarizes all my modules on 3D printing and modelling, covering both free and commercial options. Browse the modules below to see what fits your needs. From a high level, the steps of 3D printing with their respective software solutions are:

  1. Segmentation of medical images to create a 3D model (Slicer, Mimics)
  2. Design on the 3D model prior to printing (Meshmixer, 3Matic)
  3. Preparation of the 3D model for printing (Simplify 3D, Cura)
  4. Printing

Commercial Option - Segmenting and Cutting a Lumbar Spine

This video tutorial walks through segmenting a lumbar spine and thecal sac from a CT myelogram using commercial software from Materialise – Mimics for segmentation, 3Matic for design. It then goes into the basics of cleaning up a model and designing on it, adding dowels so that the vertebrae “snap” together.

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Free Option - Segmenting and Cutting a Skull

3D Slicer is NIH-funded software that can perform medical image segmentation. Meshmixer is free CAD software from AutoDesk designed with 3D printing in mind. In these tutorials, we’ll segment a skull from a head CT, cut it, and add dowels to it so it can snap together. These are common steps for many 3D printing applications. Please note, this tutorial uses the older Slicer segmentation module, though many concepts are similar.

Original tutorial files including head CT located at


Segmentation TutorialDesign Tutorial

Free Option - Segmenting a Heart (new Slicer Segment Editor)

This video walks through segmenting a cardiac CTA using the newer Slicer Segment Editor module (the above skull module uses the old segmentation module). The new module is significantly more powerful, and the task of cardiac segmentation nicely highlights some of its strengths.

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Print Preparation - Simplify 3D

While not free, Simplify 3D is relatively inexpensive. This software helps you prepare your model for printing, and is so much better than alternatives it’s worth the investment – even for a few prints. It will prepare optimal support structures that break off easy, let you troubleshoot failed prints more effectively, and test the limits of your printer.

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