Full-Color 3D Prints of Interesting Molecules

For the 2018 #CSD3DPrint contest, I used Mercury and the CSD Python API to generate the 3D printer files for the [Th(NO3)6]2+ structure with Th symmetry, found in the Symmetry Gallery (CSD entry GOBTAS). The model was then printed on a Prusa multimaterial printer using three different colors and a soluble support. While the process is a bit involved, this should work for virtually any structure and could be adapted to different models of 3D printers.

Figure 1: A 3D-printed model of the [Th(NO3)6]2- ion.

Figure 1: A 3D-printed model of the [Th(NO3)6]2- ion.

The steps required to generate the model are as follows:

  1. Load structure file of interest into Mercury
  2. Run the csd-3dprint-mm.py script from the CSD Python API menu (Python code available from GitHub) - generated STL files (one for each element in the molecule) will be found in the Mercury Python API output directory
  3. Load one of the generated STL files into PrusaSlicer (Slic3r)
  4. Load remaining STL files as part(s) of the first object
  5. Assign extruders (colors) to each of the atom types
  6. Place model flat on print bed surface
  7. Export gcode
  8. Print
  9. Dissolve soluble support material (if necessary)

A video demonstration of this process can be found on YouTube.

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