The authors next converted the data to DICOM format to obtain density values for each voxel, via PMOD software (PMOD Technologies). For printing, the volumetric data must be converted to a contiguous surface. The authors used ImageJ software to render the surface and export the results to Wavefront format. Using a combination of software tools – the open source Meshlab and the freeware Netfabb Studio Basic – the team completed stereolithographic editing to repair any gaps, remove excess mesh, and smooth the surface of the final model tools before printing. Finally, the authors compare printing materials and options with 3D printing services or a commercial desktop printer.
The authors present accurate and highly detailed plastic models of the rabbit skull, rat skeleton, and lungs in varied colors. Today's 3D printing technology and the Albira imaging system's fine voxel size and data handling capabilities make it possible to cost-effectively create complex, detailed, and accurate 3D models that would otherwise be impossible to reproduce. These physical models show promise as practical, hands-on visualization, research, and educational tools.