[updated: 3D-Printed Enzyme – Proof of Concept]
While animating a short for the 2011 MIT iGem team, I came up with the idea to 3D print enzymes from the vast number of structure-characterized proteins in the RCSB Protein Data Bank (PDB). There are lots of slick software out there to render the PDB files into gorgeous 3D models. Exporting those models to be 3D-printing compatible is only a few clicks away.
The simplest approach is to use USCF Chimera to render a protein from PDB. Chimera can export the protein into an STL file, which can be uploaded to Shapeways or other 3D printing vendors to print.
While Chimera renders ribbon diagrams very beautifully, it lacks more sophisticated mesh-based renderings and user customization. Molecular Maya can be a good alternative. It harnesses all the customization power of Maya, while easily importing PDB files. To go the Molecular Maya route, proteins can be exported into OBJ files to upload to Shapeways. Currently, Molecular Maya does not render ribbon diagrams or secondary structure.Gallery