The NIH has launched a new website that allows visitors to share, edit, and download 3D print files related to health and science. The NIH 3D Print Exchange, the result of a collaborative effort led by the NIH's own National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, features files that the NIH says can be used to print customized lab equipment and models of bacteria and human anatomy, among many other things.

3D printing is the creation of a physical object from a digital model, and the NIH says it uses the technique to study viruses, plan medical procedures, and repair and enhance lab equipment. The 3D Print Exchange includes these types of files along with video tutorials, a discussion forum, and tools to convert scientific and clinical data into ready-to-print 3D files.

“3D printing is a potential game changer for medical research,” NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement. “At NIH, we have seen an incredible return on investment; pennies’ worth of plastic have helped investigators address important scientific questions while saving time and money. We hope that the 3D Print Exchange will expand interest and participation in this new and exciting field among scientists, educators and students.”

Check out the NIH 3D Print Exchange here. The website is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Ignite and Ventures programs.

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