A simplified method for the 3D printing of molecular models for chemical education

Jones, O and Spencer, M 2018, 'A simplified method for the 3D printing of molecular models for chemical education', Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 95, no. 1, pp. 88-96.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title A simplified method for the 3D printing of molecular models for chemical education
Author(s) Jones, O
Spencer, M
Year 2018
Journal name Journal of Chemical Education
Volume number 95
Issue number 1
Start page 88
End page 96
Total pages 9
Publisher American Chemical Society
Abstract Using tangible models to help students visualize chemical structures in three dimensions has been a mainstay of chemistry education for many years. Conventional chemistry modeling kits are, however, limited in the types and accuracy of the molecules, bonds and structures they can be used to build. The recent development of 3D printing technology has allowed a much wider variety of molecules to be created for teaching but is not simple to do. Creating the files needed to print molecular structures is often technically difficult and requires the use of multiple software programs, which are not always user-friendly. Not all educators or students have the resources or technical skill to create such files and so are put off trying to use 3D printing in the classroom. Here we demonstrate a simple method to easily generate the files needed for the 3D printing of almost any molecule using the National Institutes of Health Print Exchange server (or simple alternatives). The basic molecule structure may be created in-house or easily sourced online from databases such as UniProt or PubChem. The options for quickly and cheaply printing such structures in a range of materials using online and local stores, as well as in-house 3D printers, are explored and a simple protocol is described. The method brings 3D printing to a wider audience, thus helping to spread its use in chemical pedagogy, and may also be used in self-directed learning exercises by students themselves.
Subject Theory and Design of Materials
Educational Technology and Computing
Keyword(s) Chemoinformatics
General Public
Hands-on Learning/Manipulatives
Molecular Modeling
Molecular Properties/Structure
Nanotechnology
DOI - identifier 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00533
Copyright notice © 2017 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.
ISSN 0021-9584
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Created: Wed, 19 Sep 2018, 13:27:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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