Teng-Hao Chen, University of Houston, TX, USA, and colleagues have developed an easy production of full-color 3D models of X-ray crystal structures using freely available and highly intuitive software that runs under Microsoft Windosw, MacOSX, and Linux operating systems. The team provided step-by-step instructions on how to convert a .cif file, which is a typical end product of crystal structure refinement, into a 3D-printed physical model of a crystal structure. There is no need for an own 3D printer, as the researchers used a commercial 3D printing service provided by Shapeways.
The team has printed 3D models of more than 30 different small molecules and MOFs. They see the value of their models in facilitating communication and understanding of crystal structure details both in the classroom and between experienced practitioners in the field.
- How to print a crystal structure model in 3D,
Teng-Hao Chen, Semin Lee, Amar H. Flood, Ognjen S. Miljanic,
CrystEngCom 2014, 16, 5488–5493.