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COVID-19 in 3D

COVID-19 in 3D
 Biologic Models, a US-based 3D-printed protein model and medical animation provider, is using Mimaki’s 3D printing technology to produce intricate molecular visualisation models, which bring protein into the tangible world in incredible detail.

With Canadian-based Mimaki customer, Objex Unlimited, the two have successfully embarked on multiple projects for clients in education, research, and art using Mimaki’s full colour 3D-printer, the 3DUJ-553. Most recently, Biologic Models and Objex Unlimited have produced models of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to help with the rapid development of countermeasures to address the ongoing outbreak.

Biologic Models has carved out a niche in creating precise 3D models of proteins for research facilities and collectors using clinical research and x-ray crystallography protein data. Initially working in powder-based 3D printing, the company found that printing with photopolymer-based 3D materials was a more suitable option. Notably, this process offered durability, detail, and quick turnarounds, alongside a colour gamut 10 times that of what is available with powder-based 3D printing. Another draw is how these prints, unlike sandstone, can be easily cleaned with a wet cloth, a necessary attribute in a post-COVID world for Biologic Model customers when displaying such items in exhibits. Last year, Biologic Models collaborated with Objex Unlimited to print its Collection of SARS-Cov-2 models with enhanced colour accuracy and varying degrees of transparency and opacity using the Mimaki 3DUJ-553.

“What drew me to Mimaki’s technology was its ability to simultaneously mix clear and colour in order to achieve different levels of transparency, and thus more easily display the internal changes within a protein,” commented Casey Steffen, Director of Operations, Biologic Models.

“With our upcoming coronavirus models, we’re tracking individual mutations on a ribbon model of the Spike Protein’s Receptor Binding Domain and assigning each new mutation a unique colour. Viewers can learn about how the structure of the virus changes observing both the accumulation of coloured residues and changes to the transparent intermolecular bonds. The intricate detail that we can achieve in a single print is amazing, working with Objex Unlimited has really opened my eyes to how 3D printing can create a more meaningful, accurate scientific model for our customers.”

Using the 3DUJ-553’s 10-million colour capability, Biologic Models’ protein replicas are distinctly coloured to make biomedical research clearer and more identifiable to the viewer. 3D printing a tiny protein could include 10,000 or more individual atoms. This requires a level of detail that is easily achievable with the accuracy delivered with Mimaki’s 3D printing technology. Thanks to its multi-coloured printing accuracy, Biologic Models bridge the gap between physical and digital, including QR codes that lead to dedicated web pages that are readable at even the smallest 3D printed sizes.

Steffen continued: “Mimaki 3D prints facilitate both a physical and digital learning experience that was often unachievable because of the limitations of powder-based printing. In fact, a new series of ‘Mechanism-of-Action’ protein models is set to begin releasing later this summer. This series of 3D printed models integrate AR experiences that enable viewers to digitally explore the protein data used to create the 3D printed protein model. Exclusive to these Mimaki 3D prints is a never-before-seen molecular animation that visualises how the Spike Glycoprotein changes shape during infection.”

Steve Corey, President, Objex Unlimited added. “The level of accuracy and detail that we incorporate into these models requires a 3D printing technology that produces strong and durable parts. It also has to be easy to use, quick to print, and produce cost-effective models for customers that only need one-off products or visualisations – a crucial advantage for many of Biologic Models’ customers who work on research projects that may soon evolve or need to be updated.

“Mimaki’s 3D printing technology offers the flexibility to realise the most complex molecular structures with ease and incredible accuracy, enabling us to produce models that support even the most high-profile and demanding research projects.”

Biologic Models and Objex Unlimited are currently debuting the brand-new SARS-COV-2 Virion model, which includes the latest research about the virus structure and function. The duo has collaborated to ensure the entire SARS-CoV-2 Collection fits inside the new desktop printer. This maximises the cost-effectiveness of each model Biologic Model customers.

 Individual pieces of the SARS-Cov-2 Collection printed on Mimaki 3D printer are available for purchase using the following link: https://biologic-models.myshopify.com/collections/sars-cov-2

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