The reproduction of human pathology specimens using three-dimensional (3D) printing technology for teaching purposes

Paul G. McMenamin, Daniel Hussey, Daniel Chin, Waafiqa Alam, Michelle R. Quayle, Sarah E. Coupland, Justin W. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The teaching of medical pathology has undergone significant change in the last 30–40 years, especially in the context of employing bottled specimens or ‘pots’ in classroom settings. The reduction in post-mortem based teaching in medical training programs has resulted in less focus being placed on the ability of students to describe the gross anatomical pathology of specimens. Financial considerations involved in employing staff to maintain bottled specimens, space constraints and concerns with health and safety of staff and student laboratories have meant that many institutions have decommissioned their pathology collections. This report details how full-colour surface scanning coupled with CT scanning and 3 D printing allows the digital archiving of gross pathological specimens and the production of reproductions or replicas of preserved human anatomical pathology specimens that obviates many of the above issues. With modern UV curable resin printing technology, it is possible to achieve photographic quality accurate replicas comparable to the original specimens in many aspects except haptic quality. Accurate 3 D reproductions of human pathology specimens offer many advantages over traditional bottled specimens including the capacity to generate multiple copies and their use in any educational setting giving access to a broader range of potential learners and users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • 3D printing
  • additive manufacturing
  • Gross anatomical pathology
  • medical education
  • rapid prototyping

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