Interlocking Protein Subunit Support

I'm still new to the 3D printing and modelling world so I'm not very comfortable with making modications to 3D objects. I would love it if the NIH 3D Print Exchange could support the printing of multi-subunit proteins as separate units such that they could be manually interlocked. In ribbon structures, that would require no struts between subunits and no struts overlapping protein in neighbouring subunits. In surface structures, that might mean ensuring that there are no surface overlaps between subunits at the protein-protein interfaces. I admit, it seems like quite a complicated feature to develop automation for, but I would be very happy to see it!

Similarly, with surface renderings, adding support for recesses in the protein-protein interface so that magnets could be glued in would be a killer feature! Keep up the great work.

Thanks for the suggestions Chris! Automating the process itself is not necessarily difficult, but there's likely not a one-size-fits-all to accommodate all the possible variations on a ribbon or surface protein structure.

As for the struts, they are added to provide built-in structural support - we've found this necessary for ribbon structures created with a binder jet printer, the material of which is more delicate. Refer to this thread regarding printability with Shapeways.

I can find out the settings for surface structures, to determine if there could be overlaps.

Thanks again for the great feedback!

Here is an approach that could come in handy!  Difference operations in 3D modeling are common, but this will explain one approach to performing the boolean operation in your Blender scene.


Boolean modifier

The video shows a hypothetical docking mesh (sphere) and a cube where the sphere is to dock. 

  • 1. The video shows the boolean difference operation
  • 2. Apply the boolean modifier to the cube (w/ 'difference' mode selected ; selecting the sphere from the drop-down menu) 
  • Useful tip: you need at least 2 objects to perform this operation.  Note you attach the script to the object and then adjust the settings of the script and apply without having to do anything to the non-scripted object
  • 3. manipulate the position (i.e. the transform or x,y,z coordinates) of the sphere to intersect the cube, you will see the result live.  You will need to apply the modifier before the mesh data is edited and is accepted.

In the video, x-ray visibility and wireframe (typically Z key) are toggled to show how the mesh data is reconstructed.

Final step- Remeshing of the cube

  • After you apply the boolean modifier, the cube poly-mesh can have some hard to handle thin faces.
  • In the video, sharp remeshing mode is used
  • Apply the remeshing modifier to the cut cube and change the value for the octree depth to fine-tune the topology, and then apply this modifier.



The blog has issued so many inter locking protein college paper review support for the subunit. That type of interesting resources on three D prining services. So, they were given the following updates about inter locking and other resources.