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Are 3D Printers Hard To Use?


The 3d printer industry is expanding at a meteoric rate, leading to increased manufacturing of new and advanced technologies in the sector. Due to the advanced technology and mass production, the cost of 3d printers has decreased substantially and their sizes have also shrunk over the years so that they have become easily portable and small enough to be fitted on a desk.

professional in labcoat operating a desktop 3d printer

In contrast to traditional printers used in offices, which only paste ink onto paper or other objects, 3D printers transform virtual models into physical models using a variety of materials such as plastic, metal, and wood. However, a common complaint concerning 3D printers is that they are difficult to use. Still, there are individuals who have a different perspective on this subject. Let’s find out if 3d printers are hard to use or if it is an overstatement.

3D printer use is quite hard for complete beginners, but advanced users get around it with extensive practice and education on using the technology.  Use of a 3D printer involves as a prerequisite understanding of 3d modeling, printing materials, 3d printing technologies and associated advantages and drawbacks.  

Is The 3d Printing Technology User-Friendly?

The creation and construction of a physical object are combined into a single process in 3D printing, which adds the element of complexity to the entire procedure. In order to produce anything using a 3D printer thats not already designed, you first need to have CAD or 3D modeling software. Moreover, a creative mind, a technical background, and a good sense of design all come in handy here.

Even for relatively simple items, the time required to design them might be a bit too long since there are no conventions and standards for CAD software that are widely approved. There are a variety of approaches that various businesses use when using these technologies, depending on the needs.

When it comes to 3D printing, hitting “Print” on a computer is only the last step in the process. When developing a product, it is essential to take into account the qualities of each component or substance.

All in all, the process of actual 3d printing is relatively simple if you have a good understanding of 3D and if you are good at putting things together. It might be a bit more complicated for those who have never dealt with 3D printers or those who have no 3D experience.

Challenges Associated With Using 3d Printers

  • Limited Resources

3D printing is a big technical achievement in the industry, but the variety of accessible materials is still small and some are still under development. 3D printing usually utilizes plastic. Plastic is placed in thin, molten layers. However, plastic’s strength fluctuates, so it’s not always the best option. Several producers use metal, however, the products created with such material are usually not that dense. Glass and gold are other unusual materials that have uses in 3d printing but aren’t well-known.

  • 3D Printers Are Not User-Friendly

Due to the buzz around 3D printing, customers may mistakenly believe that the technology is simpler than it really is and does not require prior knowledge. 3D printers are difficult to run and maintain since they often need a high-voltage power source, specialized equipment, and parts, especially for the professional 3D printers which often produce the best results. However, as a result of developments, 3D printing is becoming more user-friendly.

  • Slow Printing Speed

While 3D printers provide almost unlimited potential for mass customization, they are inefficient when it comes to producing large quantities of the same thing. The time required to print anything might range from hours to days. The more time and effort that goes into developing a product, the slower the printers will run. It may take several weeks for 3D printing businesses to complete requests for customized prints depending on the type of materials being used.  Also, any error in a 3D print such as a damaged layer results in hours or days lost- you have to start the print from scratch.

  • High Initial Investment Costs

A 3D printer is expensive to buy and can cost thousands of dollars to tens of thousands. You will also need to spend additional money on equipment like scanners and design software if you plan to have a whole design pipeline. You’ll need to purchase maintenance products and replacement parts as well. If you’re still in the testing phase, you may need to spend even more on supplies or prototypes thus, making the process of using 3D printer much costlier in comparison to conventional manufacturing techniques.

  • Limited Customization Options

3D printers can come with multiple printing heads or a heated plate but the number of options is limited, unlike a car where you can choose dozens of options.  In addition, prints themselves are often limited by material, number of colors, etc.  The colors cannot usually be mixed and blended freely as they are limited by the material and switching filament and heads.

Are some 3D Printers easier to use?

If you are considering getting a 3D printer, ease of use is important to you. The right printer can make 3D printing affordable and easy to do. There are a few 3D printers that have been specifically designed with beginners in mind. But which printer is best for you?

1. Prusa i3 

The Prusa i3  is a high-end 3D printer designed for serious hobbyists. It is also one of the most user-friendly 3D printers on the market. The 3D pen comes pre-assembled, making it easy to use. While they ditched the glass print bed of the earlier model, the improved design resulted in better print quality. The printer comes pre-calibrated, so you’ll only need to change the printing speed if you want to tweak the settings a bit.

2. Dremel 3D40

The Dremel DigiLab 3D40 Flex 3D Printer is a good choice for students (and teachers) because of its ease of use. It’s easy to use and easy to set up, making it a great choice for beginners: Students won’t need to deal with complicated software they just choose the design and print it. The Dremel 3D40 Flex 3D Printer is also not very expensive.

3. Flashforge Dreamer

Well, the Flashforge Dreamer is a choice of many due to its automatic temperature regulation abilities. It is also a user-friendly printer, which makes it a good choice for beginners and professionals. Due to its ability to take PLA, ABS, and PVA, it can be used for a wide range of projects. It is very reasonably priced.

4. TronXY X5S 3D Printer

The TronXY X5S is one of the easiest 3D printers to use and a top seller in stores like Gearbest and Aliexpress. It is the bigger brother of the TronXY X3S and offers a build volume of 330 x 330 x 400 mm. One of the best things about the X5S is its print speed of up to 120 mm/s. This makes it one of the fastest desktop 3D printers on the market.

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Use A 3d Printer?

Learning to use a 3d printer usually takes between one and two days. Current generation 3D printers (except the kit printers you have to put together yourself) usually come ready to print.  Some may require calibration, but many modern printers are capable of self calibrating.

It is not difficult to get a 3D printer to operate, but getting it to print in a consistent manner is a more difficult task. You will need to learn everything as you go along, including how to level the bed, how to alter the settings on your slicing application, and how to remove particles from the tip of the printer.

Getting your 3D printer up and running and ready to print is rather simple, but creating your own prints and making customized tweaks may be challenging. To get precise prints, one must have an in-depth knowledge of the specifics involved in the design process.

Designing a print that will stand up with overhangs requires careful consideration of how the print will be supported at every stage of the process. Once you have that information, getting started with design should be easier, and many applications have built-in validation tools to ensure your work will run smoothly. An adequate infill level will prevent your print from failing in the midst of the print, so keeping that in mind is necessary.

Conclusion

The use of 3D printing has several advantages in several different business sectors. On the other hand, it is not going to completely replace conventional production. It is a relatively new technology that does have a few drawbacks, all of which should be taken into consideration before deciding on a strategy for product development.

Oftentimes, errors will be made, but it’s best to consider them as learning opportunities. The majority of the time, a few tweaks to the settings are required for the prints to come out quite smoothly.

There is a lot of information required to be proficient in 3D printing, but the majority of this comes from real-world experience and broad area knowledge. The first few times may be challenging, but it should get simpler with practice.  Practice makes perfect.

Click on the following link to learn how long a 3D printer lasts.

Best Medical Training Manikins and How to Choose One


A medical training manikin is an important part of medical training for medical, nursing, and EMT students and professionals. It helps them practice various procedures safely and get confident about the procedure before performing the procedure on an actual patient.

medical training manikin with cuff

So how do you choose a medical training manikin?

Generally, the best medical training manikin for anyone would depend on its purpose. For most emergency procedures like CPR training and IV cannula insertion, a part-task manikin would be enough. For procedures that need monitoring of certain physiological responses, like intubation, a mid-fidelity manikin would be best. For surgical procedures and advanced anesthesiological procedures, a high-fidelity manikin would be the best choice.

There are a lot of brands in the market that produce a variety of medical manikins that serve different purposes and they may or may not give a response physiologically. A manikin can have high fidelity or it can be a simple model.

We’ll explore more about the types of medical manikins in this article. But first, let’s see what a medical training manikin is.

What Is A Medical Training Manikin?

A medical training manikin is a model patient simulator that helps medical, nursing, and EMT students and staff learn and practice various medical procedures before they can perform the procedure on a real patient. It helps the learner practice simulated scenarios in a controlled environment.

Various procedures, especially the procedures that are performed in emergencies and the invasive procedures should ideally be practiced on a simulator or a manikin before done on an actual patient. This helps them be more confident in an emergency and be able to perform the procedure precisely even under high-pressure situations. Performing any such medical procedures on a real patient can be intimidating, especially during emergencies when time is of importance. This is where medical training manikins come in handy. Learners can learn and practice various medical procedures and protocols, and get confident in performing the procedure accurately.

Medical training manikins can be made of rubber/polymerized rubber, PVC, plastic, silicone, foam, and fiber. Usually, they are made up of a mix of these materials, with stronger materials like rubber and plastic used to make firmer parts, and skin and face being made of polymerized rubber and silicone to make it soft and real-like. The material used to make the manikin may vary from company to company.

Some of the common procedures for which medical training manikin may be used are:

  1. CPR training

  2. Tracheostomy

  3. IV cannula insertion

  4. Intubation

  5. Ear exam

  6. Suture practice

  7. CVP insertion

  8. Amputation stump bandaging as well as regular bandaging.

  9. Local and regional anesthesia

  10. Surgical procedures

  11. Labor simulation

Types Of Medical Training Manikins

A medical training manikin can be categorized into various types:

  1. Fidelity

A medical training manikin can be a high, mid, or low infidelity manikin. Fidelity is the degree to which a manikin can mimic human physiology.

High Fidelity Manikin:

These are the most advanced variety of medical training manikins. They are wireless, computerized and react physiologically on their own to make the experience much more life-like. They may even have the ability to talk and mimic a patient’s symptoms. These are mostly used to learn advanced medical procedures like anesthesiological and surgical procedures, which cannot be replicated in lower-fidelity manikins.

Mid-Fidelity Manikin:

There is medium-level realism in mid-fidelity simulation. It doesn’t replicate all physiological responses but replicates some basic physiological phenomena like breathing sounds, bowel sounds, and heart sounds. Procedures like NG tube insertion and tracheostomy suctioning come under this category of simulation, as monitoring of breathing is important in these procedures.

Low-Fidelity Manikin:

This is the least realistic form of simulation where static manikins are used. Role-playing and written cases are used to learn and practice the protocols. Low-fidelity simulation is used to build knowledge. Procedures like CPR training on a CPR manikin comes under this category.

The majority of the medical training for both doctors and nurses is done using low to mid-fidelity manikins. High-fidelity manikins are required only for certain branches of medicine and are not needed for most emergency procedures like CPR training, intubation, and tracheostomy.

For obvious reasons, high-fidelity simulators are the costliest of all. Additionally, high-fidelity manikins don’t necessarily give a better learning experience in all situations, as proven by many studies. But, each of these different fidelity manikins or simulations has its respective important role at various levels. Therefore, which manikin to choose should depend on the purpose it will be serving.

  1. Task Trainer

Task trainers are manikins that allow learners to learn a specific task and practice psychomotor skills individually. There are no physiological responses from the manikin at all.

  1. Full Body Task Trainer: This is a full body manikin. Usually, they are used in scenarios to simulate ECG monitoring, code blue drills, and other such situations where it’s better to have a full-body model.

  2. Part-Task Trainer: The manikin consists of only the part involved in the procedure. They help one learn only one specific task, like airway intubation, central venous access, various anesthesia procedures, intraosseous injections, etc.

These can be found separately or with integration with the high or mid-fidelity manikins.

What To Look For In A Medical Training Manikin?

There are a variety of manikins for medical training available in the market to choose from. Before purchasing a manikin, the budget and the purpose of training should be kept in mind. For example, a low to mid-fidelity manikin would be enough to learn most emergency procedures like a CPR training class, and a high-fidelity manikin in this scenario may not be the best choice.

In addition to the purpose, certain other things that should be kept in mind are:

  1. It should be easy to use, affordable, smooth in finish, and easy to clean

  2. It should be sturdy enough to ensure reusability and ensure it doesn’t get disassembled (if with detachable parts) while performing the procedure.

  3. It should be lightweight and portable if you are planning to carry the manikin to various classes.

  4. Anatomical accuracy is important as anatomical/bony landmarks should be seen/palpable to locate the correct reference point wherever applicable.

  5. The manikin should be flexible, i.e. joint movements should be smooth and accurate, as certain procedures mandate good joint movements, like head tilt, chin lift, and jaw thrust while performing intubation.

  6. In the case of a fidelity manikin, the simulated physiological response should be accurate (as per the condition and the symptoms of the patient), and also, it should respond accurately to the treatment/procedure that is being performed in response.

  7. Additional features that might indicate the correctness of the procedure are a plus. For example, an audible clicker on performing CPR to indicate correct depth of compression (in a part-task manikin).

  8. Realistic resistance and recoil of the chest on a CPR manikin is important so that the learner can get accustomed to the actual chest recoil on a patient and understand how much pressure to apply on a real patient.

  9. Simulated fluid flow on a successful lumbar puncture and IV cannula insertion.

  10. The artificial skin should have the same elasticity and strength as real skin, such that it can endure the cuts and sutures well.

Best Medical Training Manikins

Portable CPR training manikin by MCR Medical

MCR Medical CPR training manikin

This particular CPR manikin is made for portability. It is lightweight and easy to carry around when compared to traditional CPR manikins. They are easy to assemble and disassemble. This set is great for people who are required to visit different classes to teach CPR. 

This portable CPR training manikin contains 4 adult manikin torsos, 4 adult manikin heads, lung bags, 4 AED units, 4 feedback compression pistons, 4 packs of MCR kneeling pads, a carrying case, and an instruction sheet. You can teach a child CPR on an adult manikin as well. However, if you also need to teach infant CPR then you will need another set of infant CPR manikins. 

Rating: 4.6/5

 

Prestan Infant CPR training kit

Prestan infant training manikin

Infant CPR cannot be taught on an adult manikin as the way CPR is performed on an infant is different from on adults. Therefore, for infant CPR a separate infant CPR manikin is mandatory. 

This infant CPR manikin set is a good option for this purpose. It comes with an infant manikin, a lung bag, and a carrying case. It also comes with a CPR rate monitor– which is a great addition, especially for a beginner, as CPR is all about the right amount of quality compression.

The manikin is very real-like and has all the necessary anatomical landmarks that make it easier to locate the carotid artery and the correct spot for compression.

This set is affordable and a good addition to your CPR training set.

Rating: 4.8/5

 

CPR trainers– Adult, Child, Infant

Prestan Take 2 trainer set

 

This set comes with 2 adult manikins and 2 infant manikins that are very realistic in looks and feel. It also includes 2 AED trainers that have 5 pre-recorded scenarios in each of the AED trainers in both English and Spanish. 

It’s easy to set up and disassemble. It also has an in-build feedback mechanism that will help the learners be more confident in their technique. 

20 Lung bags and 2 kneeling pads are included in the set too.

Rating: 4.6/5

 

Aliwovo Venipuncture practice kit

Aliwovo venipuncture practice kit

 

This set is great for medical and nursing students to practice procedures like venipuncture, IV/IM/subcutaneous injections, IV infusion practice, etc. These are great to practice the angle at which the needle should be inserted in these various procedures.

This model is made up of silicone and is very realistic. It has 3 layers representing skin, fat, and muscle layer– making it a good model to practice various procedures. It has 4 vessels- 2 red and 2 green. This model can also be used to practice the different types of sutures. 

These are very realistic and affordable for the students. This set does not come with red ink or IV needles, however. So you will have to buy them separately.

Rating: 4/5

 

Advanced Trauma Management Manikin

 

Advanced Trauma Management Manikin

 

Traditional CPR manikins may not be equipped enough for more advanced procedures performed in traumatic cases. Although expensive, this trauma manikin covers the advanced features that will help the learner be confident in the various invasive and non-invasive procedures performed during such events.

This manikin helps learn advanced airway management and some emergency surgical procedures. A few procedures that can be performed on this manikin are tracheostomy, needle and surgical cricothyroidotomy, NG tube insertion, chest tube insertion, endotracheal intubation, needle decompression of tension pneumothorax, and CPR.

Audible hiss can be heard on successful insertion of the needle correctly at the 2nd and 5th intercostal space- which makes it great for beginners to know they’ve put the needle in the right place. The joint movement of the neck and jaw is smooth for various throat and neck-based procedures. Another unique feature of this manikin is that the tongue is inflatable to simulate tongue edema. Most emergency neck and chest-based procedures can be practiced on it.

It’s very realistic and durable. It has all the correct anatomical landmarks and comes with a 5-year warranty. This manikin is appropriate for a larger institution and trainers who teach the above-mentioned emergency procedures as well, apart from CPR.

Rating: 4.8/5

 

Difficult Airway Task Trainer

Difficult Airway Task Trainer manikin

 

If you only wish to buy a difficult airway task trainer, this trainer comes with a wide range of simulated difficult airway scenarios. 

This task trainer has an enlarged tongue, swollen posterior cartilages, and an elongated epiglottis that help create difficult airway scenarios.

Additionally, it also has advanced features like simulated laryngospasm, displaced larynx, cervical arthropathy, malocclusion, joint restriction, and trismus. Also, tracheostomy and cricothyrotomy can also be practiced on it. 

Rating: 4.8/5

What To Remember When Buying A Medical Training Manikin

Which medical manikin to buy would depend on the purpose it is intended for. The most important factors are:

  1. Ensure it serves the purpose that you are seeking to teach/learn

  2. Ensure that it is anatomically accurate.

Additionally, affordability and durability are other important factors to consider.


I hope this article was helpful to you.

Click here to read about the best 3d anatomy apps (free and paid).

Is 3D Animation Easier Than 2D: The Surprising Facts


Animation has been around for several decades and has been the art behind the visual content we consume daily. The practice continues improving with technology. Individuals now even use Artificial Intelligence to animate virtual objects. Before that, artists had to animate by hand drawing frames, all in 2D. There seems to be a never-ending debate about which of the two is easier- 2D or 3D animation.

2d computer drawing

Let’s get to the bottom of which type of animation is easier, which is harder, and exactly for what reasons.

Generally speaking, animation that involves computer software, whether it is 2D or 3D, is easier in the sense that the software allows for reusable elements, fills in the inbetweens, is non-linear and allows for individual animation aspects to be modified, and may utilize computer assisted motion paths, physics, and import from motion capture devices.  When you take into account the software learning curve and all the technical aspects of 3D animation, it is not easy and takes time to master.  Both 2D and 3D animation have their challenges.

Differences Between 3D and 2D Animation

The table below illustrates the differences between 3D and 2D animation:

2D Animation

3D Animation

The characters are less lifelike because they are portrayed only in height and width.

It produces more lifelike characters because it includes their width, height, and depth.

2D animation focuses more on motion of still frames and lines to create character movements.

3D animation focuses on character movements in XYZ space and real world physics such as collisions.

2D figures are created using traditional hand-drawing methods. Every aspect of the object is hand-drawn frame-to-frame, but there have been improvements to incorporate software in action sequences for 2D characters, where 2D elements are animated.

3D animation is done using computer software because of required intensive calculations after user input.

2D animation gives more room for creators to explore their traditional skills.

3D animation somewhat limits artistic creativity because everything is done using computer software.

In two dimensions any real world effects like shadows are drawn 

Three dimensions allow for real word effects

It is mainly used in cartoon shows, advertisements, films, e-learning courses, and websites.

It is mainly used in gaming, movies, medical, legal.

2D animation software is usually Photoshop, After Effects, and Adobe Animate.

The software used for 3D is usually Houdini, Maya, Cinema 4D, or Autodesk 3Ds Max.

Which Is More Time-Consuming?

Traditional 2D animation in itself is more time consuming than 3D Animation. It is because artists need to do about 24 drawings per second, referred to as frame-by-frame. Then, the artist has to animate the drawings (also frame-by-frame).  In traditional animation you cannot change one aspect of the animation such as height of a jump without redrawing it all, which takes time.

Unlike in 3D animation, where animators use computer software to program animations, in traditional 2D animation, animators use a light source to backlight a physical animation disc and a peg bar to hold the paper for drawing. Also, 2D artists manually flick through the drawings to stimulate a sense of timing and movement in the characters.

In software assisted 2D animation, the animator may utilize reusable elements of a character such as arms and legs or props to speed up workflow.  He can also utilize the software to draw in between hand drawn frames to speed things up.

In 3D animation, while the software takes care of inbetweens and you can use a physics engine or motion paths to help speed up animation of objects, the real time consuming part is setting up characters and worlds to simulate a 3D world, especially if you are going for realism.  You need to set up joints, kinematics, physics settings, lighting, texturing, not to mention model your 3D character which in itself is a profession.

Frame by Frame Animation

Frame-by-frame animation is a technique artists use when developing animated characters. The technique involves making slight modifications to every still illustration in a row. The illustrations that undergo this technique are usually hand drawings, and the animator modifies them one frame at a time. After modifying, the illustrations are presented sequentially at a rapid speed to give the illusion of motion, and this is what you see in cartoons, websites, and films.

This type of animation is one of the pioneer animation techniques. Artists used it to manipulate collective 2D illustrations and play them sequentially to animate them. Frame-by-frame is still relevant because it has a good aesthetic appeal in specific niches, hence its demand.

It is also simple and cheap, especially because artists can use computer software to assist in making and layering illustrations. However, frame-by-frame animation is becoming outdated in favor of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) for commercial animations. It is because CGI is more visually appealing and effective than the former.

Technical Aspects of 3D

The following are the technical aspects involved in 3D:

  • Scripting and storyboarding

  • 3D modeling

  • Texturing

  • Rigging and skinning

  • Animation

  • Lighting for realistic visuals

  • Compositing and Special FX

  • Rendering

These are explained below:

1. Scripting and Storyboarding

This process is done during the first phase of 3D modeling, the pre production period. Scripting and storyboarding help create a visual flow of the video animated in 3D. It is done using 3D software like cinema4D and Max.

2. 3D Modeling

This phase involves the designing of movie or game characters, including props and other objects that are part of them. Animators use simple props to develop and expand characters into 3D form.

3. Texturing

3D animators then add textures to the modeled characters. They do so by layering 2D images on the models. Artists use textures, colors, and designs to make the models appear lifelike in a process called mapping.

4. Rigging and Skinning

It is the creation of skeletons for characters and other visual aspects of the 3D animation. Modelers use skinning and rigging to create a system that controls the movement of characters in the animation process. The skeleton allows animators to dictate the characters’ mobility based on the script they follow, for instance, in movies. Then, the characters are ready for the production phase.

5. Animation

It marks the beginning of the production phase in 3D animation. The process involves programming the animated characters and elements to move. Artists use the keyframe method to create the animate the objects frame-by-frame. They can also use imported movement and animation data from external sources to animate the characters such as motion capture.

6. Lighting for Realistic Visuals

Lighting is another technical aspect of the 3D animation process. It is important to manipulate light for images to appear as real as possible. Therefore, designers and animators carefully consider the ideal lighting for each frame so that the outcome is visually appealing to viewers.

7. Compositing and Special FX

It combines various visual aspects from different sources into one place to create a layered image. Compositing and Special FX are technical aspects of 3D animation production that bring to life the project’s vision. Animators use special effects to merge live-action scenes with digital re-enactments in the production process.

8. Rendering

It is the final phase before completing the animation process. The final render of the animated character is tweaked with all sorts of image passes for the best visual appearance, in addition to motion blur, field of view, and depth of focus. Then, the editing team reviews the final product and makes the necessary edits before conducting image synthesis. Rendering helps animators create photorealistic images from the 3D model and export the final product into a video format ready for consumption.

What is Easier- 3D or 2D Animation?

Some people will argue that 3D animation is easier than 2D animation and others will take the opposite side.  It really depends on what aspects you focus on.  Sure, the learning curve for 3D animation software may be high.  On the other hand, to become a skilled traditional 2D animator you will need to be a good artist and spend a long time perfecting your skills. Software makes some things easier while making others more complex.

To be a good 3D animator, you will not only need to master traditional animation techniques such as squash and stretch, unless you animate purely using a physics engine (unlikely as even those frames are usually baked and edited later), but you will need to learn computer hardware, software, output methods, compositing, and all the technical aspects of 3D animation mentioned above.  That is a lifetime of learning and improving.

It all depends on how much of the animation process you will be involved in.  A 3D or 2D animator working for himself such as many medical animators, will need to do all the creative and technical aspects himself.  An animator in a large company may just be in charge of character animation for 3d characters, not the modeling, lighting, or even joint and kinematics setup.

You also have to decide what you find easy personally.  Some people could draw in their sleep as it comes naturally or visualize everything in their head while being really bad with computers or scripting.  Others do not have an artistic bone in their body but can still animate with the best of them in a 3D software package using existing assets and models.

This question likely will be a source of diverging views for a long time to come.

Here is an interesting video on CGI vs hand drawn work:

Thanks for reading.

Click the following link to learn if 3D modeling is harder than drawing.

Whats the Difference Between Microbiology and Molecular Biology?


Biology as a branch is a huge field of study and therefore it is divided into many branches that deal with different areas of study. Microbiology and molecular biology are two such fields of study.

bacteria under microscope

 

So what’s the difference between microbiology and molecular biology?

Microbiology is the field of science that deals with the study of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions, and Protozoa. On the other hand, molecular biology deals with the study of the molecular basis of the cells, especially the study of DNA and proteins.

Macromolecules are the heavy molecules within a cell. DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates are the macromolecules, and molecular biology studies the interaction of these macromolecules inside a cell and the various processes they are involved in. Things like the location of a gene on a specific location of a chromosome, the synthesis of specific proteins, and what they all do— all come under molecular biology. There are many modern techniques of molecular biology that we currently use in various fields of study.

Some of these techniques are:

  1. PCR (polymerase chain reaction)
  2. Various blotting techniques (Western, Southern, Northern, Eastern blotting)
  3. Microarray techniques
  4. Probing
  5. Gel electrophoresis
  6. Allele-specific oligonucleotides.

From a medical point of view, molecular biology helps understand the molecular and genetic basis and diagnosis of various diseases. Additionally, newer methods of treatment like gene therapy also use molecular biology methods to treat specific conditions. For example, Zolgensma is a gene therapy medication for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)— an incurable condition previously can now be treated with this gene therapy. Although affordability is a big issue in gene therapy currently, it is a great achievement that was possible because of molecular studies of the cells.

Microbiology on the other hand deals with the organisms that can only be seen under the microscope. It deals with studying the structure of an organism, its behaviour, its survival methods, its mechanism of pathogenicity, reproduction, mutations, etc. Microbiology is an essential branch to understanding any organism and plays a very important role in understanding the behaviour of an organism inside and outside the host’s body and how it may cause disease— making it an essential branch for medicine and research. 

Is Molecular Biology Harder Than Microbiology?

Whether molecular biology is harder or not is a subjective matter. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the basics and the interest to learn. Microbiology is way more vast though and will require knowing molecular biology and cellular biology aspects as well. 

In simple terms, microbiology is a vast subject, whereas molecular biology is a very niched branch of biology. The application of molecular biology is in both microbiology and biochemistry.

Learning and remembering various steps in the molecular processes can be a tedious job. Since it requires a lot of memorization of various pathways and processes, people who are not that great at memorization might find it challenging. But the same is the case with microbiology. A lot of memorization is required in this branch as well. However, if you have an interest in either of the subjects, this is something you’ll learn to enjoy and is not a deal breaker.

Microbiology is a vast branch and you’ll have to touch on molecular and cellular biology, in addition to other aspects of the various microorganisms, like their pathogenicity, life cycle, reproduction, culture, reactions they cause in a lab setting, differences between various species of organisms, etc. You may find some parts of microbiology easy and some challenging.

So, speaking in terms of which is harder— microbiology is harder than molecular biology. This is because you’ll have to study a lot of individual microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, Protozoa, prions, fungi), their various species under a genus, their similarities, their differences, how to grow them in the lab, what reactions they cause, and a lot more. It’s a much more bulky branch when compared to molecular biology.

In terms of picking the branch as a field of study, it’s better to keep in mind what kind of career is desired. Both microbiology and molecular biology will allow you to work in a lab. So, taking a few classes in each might help you figure out whether you enjoy learning about microorganisms as a whole or if you are interested only in the molecular and genetic aspects of cells.

Which has a brighter future: Microbiology or Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is a relatively newer branch of biology and has a lot of possible applications that need to be explored, especially in the field of research, pharmaceuticals, and medicine. So, the future of molecular biology is pretty strong.

That said, microbiology is going to be around too. Its applications are in the field of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and research as well. We are always going to share this planet with microorganisms and that makes microbiology an essential field of study to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of these microscopic organisms.

In the most recent turn of events, microbiologists quickly studied the coronavirus (SARS-CoV- 2) involved in the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on their findings the origin, pathogenicity, infectivity, how they cause infection, and the mutations were understood. It was based on microbiological and molecular findings rapid development of vaccines was possible.

With the advancement of technology, it is expected that molecular biology studies and techniques may become a more commonly used method for understanding various diseases and even for treatment. That said, both microbiology and molecular biology are essential branches of science and both have bright futures.

Is Molecular Biology Same As Biochemistry

No, molecular biology is not the same as biochemistry. However, molecular biology has applications in biochemistry. Just like microbiology, there is some overlap.

Biochemistry is a broad subject, just like microbiology. It deals with the chemical processes that occur in any cell/organism. For example, how the metabolism of various macronutrients happens, the synthesis of proteins, the breakdown of nucleic acids, chemical processes behind the survival of any cell, biochemical changes/differences in different disease conditions, etc. Biochemistry is a broader field of study, and molecular biology has some applications in it.

Cell Biology Vs Microbiology

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms. On the other hand, cell biology is the study of cells irrespective of species (plants, animals, microorganisms). The structure of the cells and the various mechanisms that occur in the cell as a whole are studied in this branch of biology. 

Cell biology is again a niched-down branch of biology when compared to microbiology.

Microbiology Vs Molecular Biology Salary 

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a microbiologist is around $79,260 per year. The range is usually between $47,000 to $136,000– depending on the experience level.

There is no such data available for the salary of molecular biologists from the government. But unofficially, the average salary of a molecular biologist is around $63,000 per year, and ranges between $45k to $95K per year, depending on experience.

Microbiology Vs Molecular Biology: What You Should Remember

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, whereas molecular biology deals with the DNA, RNA, and proteins within the cell. Both molecular biology and microbiology are interesting fields of study. Both have applications in the field of medicine, research, and pharmaceuticals, and therefore both have a good future in terms of scope. 

You can see in the following video what molecular biology involves:

 

You can see the following video to get an idea of how microbiological studies are done:

 

Click on the following link to learn about histology vs pathology; their similarities and differences.

What are the Best 3D Anatomy Apps and Why (Free and paid)? A Review


Anatomy can be tricky to learn and remember. The most important factor when it comes to learning anatomy is the visual aid. Seeing the organs or the structures either in the cadaver or in the images is essential for understanding and remembering anatomy in the best possible way. However, cadavers may not always be accessible and images do not give a 3D representation of the body part.

Anatomical systems 3d models

The role of a 3D anatomy app comes into play here— accessible any time of the day and in 3D form. It is like having a digital cadaver at your fingertips. Below are the best free and paid 3D anatomy apps available on the market today.

I have chosen these apps based on their ease of use, graphics, content quality, availability of models, availability on multiple platforms and other factors I mention in the article.  Having experience with both studying cadavers in medical school and the creation of virtual 3D anatomy models, Im qualified to review 3D anatomy apps.   Read on to learn why these are the best apps out there for 3D anatomy.

 

11 Best Paid And Free 3D Anatomy Apps Are:

 

  • Essential Anatomy 
  • Skeleton | 3D Anatomy
  • Human Anatomy Atlas 
  • Complete Anatomy 
  • 3D Anatomy
  • 3D Anatomy Learning
  • 3D Bones and Organs
  • BioDigital Human— 3D Anatomy
  • Teach Me Anatomy
  • Anatomyka- 3D Anatomy Atlas
  • Anatomy and Physiology

 

I’ll explore these apps in detail, but first let’s see what to look for in an anatomy app.

 

What To Look For In An Anatomy App

Anatomy can be a little complicated, confusing, and at times difficult to memorise if not seen in either a cadaver or a specimen/sample/model. Here comes the role of a 3D anatomy app which can be accessed anytime and can be carried on the phone or tablet.

While 2D images are helpful, in the 21st century, an ideal anatomy app should have a 3D model of the organs and the structures (with proper labelling) which allows the user to see the anatomy from multiple perspectives. A 3D model will also allow the user to see the relations of the organ/structure under study. In addition to having a 3D model, 3D apps should also have the function of being able to dissect/remove the overlying muscles, bones, and organs to see the underlying structures.

Studying body parts in correlation with the surrounding structures makes it easier to understand and remember. Seeing things is always the best way to study anatomy. 

Any feature more than this— like quizzes, articles, animations— would be a great addition. 

Benefits Of Paid Apps Vs Free Apps

There are a variety of 3D anatomy apps available in the app stores. Some of them are free, some are paid, and some offer both free and paid versions. There are pros and cons of both paid and free apps.

The most important pro of a free app is that it’s free! But quite frequently the quality may be inferior to paid apps— although this may not be true for all free apps. It’s also likely that the free apps may not have all the systems of the body covered or in great detail. But free apps are a great place start for those who will be trying out anatomy apps for the first time.

The con of a paid app is that they are paid, but paid 3D anatomy apps would be a great investment for anyone who needs to know anatomy well. Paid apps usually contain every body system and in much more detail. There are also other additional features included in paid apps like quizzes, illustrations, articles, and animations that would make learning even more fun and easy.

Certain apps allow both free and paid versions of the same app. The free version usually comes with limited open systems/organs and the paid version gives full access to the app. A free version is a great place to explore the app and to see if the app contains everything that you are looking for, before buying the app for the full version.

 

Best 3D Anatomy Apps

 

1. Essential Anatomy 

Essential anatomy is one of the most popular anatomy apps out there. It is not free, however, it covers organs and structures in great detail. The app covers 4100 anatomical structures and 11 systems, including the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, musculoskeletal system, connective tissues, nervous system, urogenital system, and skin. 

Essential Anatomy app

The 3D model can be rotated and can be studied in detail in layers as the app allows the user to strip the various layers of the muscles and other structures. Additionally, structures can be seen in their anatomical position, as well as in isolation to look for the details more closely. 

There are different 3D models for the male and female bodies, and therefore the gender-specific differences can be studied well.

There is also an option to take a quiz where you can test your knowledge.

I found this app to be comprehensive and easy to use. It runs smoothly and the graphics are very well done.  It is very user friendly.  It can be used for many things, from studying in school to physical  therapy, healthcare professions, for your patients or even a gym.  It allows you to see individual bones and isolate them.  

Price: $14.99

Rating: 4.7/5

Supported in- iOS and android

 

You can follow this video to see how​​ you can get started with this app:

 

2. Skeleton | 3D Anatomy

This app only deals with the skeletal system and is available in both free and paid versions.

Skeleton | 3D Anatomy app

It allows studying the bones individually as well as in the anatomical position. This app would be a great option for someone who is only looking for an app to study only the skeletal system and doesn’t want to invest in any complete anatomy app.

We found this app to be very good for the skeleton,  with a useful pin feature and isolated bone studies in addition to the bones looking very realistic with detailed features.  It is easy to use.   It can be useful for nursing students, gross anatomy, medical students. Its great for drawing skeleton references.  It does not have annoying ads.  Paying for the paid version is worth it.  

Price: Free and paid

Rating:  4.1/5

Supported in: iOS and android

 

3. Human Anatomy Atlas by Visible Body

This is a paid app as well, but again, a popular 3D anatomy app covering anatomical structures in great detail.

Human Anatomy Atlas app

In addition to the 3D models, there are also cadaveric images as well as diagnostic images to correlate the information. Additionally, there are also 126 histology slides which will future help the user understand the anatomy of various cells at the microscopic level.

This app also allows for studying the structures layer by layer and includes gender differences. 

The movement of bones and muscles can also be seen in real-time.

This app also allows the user to dissect models on screen, and prepare a presentation that can be shared with others.

I found it to be very good.  Its a useful app for both students and teachers.

Price: $24.99

Rating: 4.7/5

Supported in: iOS and Android

 

4. Complete Anatomy by 3D4Medical

This is yet another popular 3D anatomy app that allows users to study anatomical structures layer by layer. 

Complete Anatomy app

This also includes gender-specific differences and some other additional features like real-time movements and functions, like an animation of a beating heart. The cross-sections of the structures can be studied.

There are additional courses within the app covering abdominal dissection and female anatomy.

Another important feature of this app is that the radiological images are also available alongside the anatomical structure— making it easy to correlate. There are also more than 1500 clinical videos and cadaver images that will help the user apply the learned anatomy in actual cases.

This app is available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese, and it has a 3-day free trial available to test the app.

I found this app to make visualizing anatomy simple and effective.  It is a great anatomy reference.  The different systems and radiology imaging combine to help you memorize the content.  It is good both for teaching and learning anatomy.  While it has a bit of a learning curve, it is well worth it.

Price: Free trial and paid

Rating: 4.3/5

Supported in: iOS and Android.

Follow this video to see how you can get started with this app:

 

5. 3D Anatomy

3D Anatomy is a relatively cheaper alternative when compared to most paid apps.

3d Anatomy App

 

This app also allows users to rotate the structures to any angle. Structures can be seen in the anatomical position and can be removed to see the underlying structures.

Separate male and female reproductive system models are available, along with more than 100 real-time muscle movements, quizzes, and audio pronunciations of the names of the structures.

This app covers the skeletal system, ligaments, nervous system, cardiovascular system, bones, and their markings, muscles (145 detailed muscle models), respiratory system, urinary system, and ear.

Despite the low cost, I like this app.  It is easy to navigate on tablet or phone and is adequate for anyone needing to learn about their body or an artist.  It can be used as an anatomy reference or to discuss anatomy with clients.

Price: $2.99

Rating:  4.6/5

Supported in: iOS, Android

 

6. 3D Anatomy Learning

This app is yet another great addition to this list especially because this app is free. However, the systems that come unlocked in the free version are limited. 

3D Anatomy Learning app

The free version has bones and joints of the head and neck, trunk, lower limb, certain parts of the cardiovascular system, muscles of a certain part, and eyes in the sensory system. The rest of the systems come locked which can be unlocked after upgrading. The free parts give a good point to get started and explore the app a little bit before upgrading.

The app also allows you to rotate the structures and zoom in and zoom out. Structures can be eliminated to expose the underlying structures. Quizzes are also available to test the knowledge.

This app is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese.

I think despite it being free its great for visualizing in 3D what you cannot see in textbooks.

 

Price: 

Free— limited features

In purchases available to unlock other features

Rating: 4.3/5

Supported in: IOS

 

7. 3D Bones and Organs by Education Mobile

This app is great for people with a low budget, as this app is free. It covers all the bones and all the organs.

3d Bones and Organs app

 

Just like the other apps, this also allows users to rotate and zoom in and out. You can also dissect the layers of the various structures and eliminate the structures to reveal the underlying structures. It also allows the user to take quizzes and bookmark information. 

It has the audio pronunciation of all the bones and supports German, Spanish, and French other than English. 

This app includes the 3D skeletal system, ligaments, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, muscles, nervous system, reproductive system, urinary system, and ear.

I like the fact that its detailed and easy to use.  Just dont expect the quality or features of an expensive anatomy app. The quiz mode is useful.

Price: Free 

no in-app purchases

Rating:  4.6/5

Supported in: Android.

 

8. BioDigital Human— 3D Anatomy

This anatomy 3D app is available in both free and paid versions. In addition to the 3D anatomical models, this app also covers physiology, medical conditions associated, and relevant treatment, making it a good app for medical students.

Biodigital Human app

 

The free version of this app provides 10 model views each month. Users can also store up to 5 models in the library. The paid version gives unrestricted access to the whole of the app.

There are 700 3D models, covering all the systems. The content is divided based on the systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, etc), as well as based on specialty (allergy, cardiology, dentistry, nephrology, etc). This makes navigation in the app easy. The app allows yearly subscriptions with an auto-renewal option.

It is available in 8 different languages.

I like this app, it looks like it would be helpful for surgery planning.  Graphics are great and diseases and pathology are a welcome extra not included in many apps.  The dissect feature is unique.

 

Price: Free and Paid

Rating:  4.5/5

Supported in: iOS and Android.

 

Follow this video to peek inside the app:

 

9. Teach Me Anatomy: 3D Human Body

Teach Me Anatomy is another great option for medical students as this app covers 3D anatomy along with clinical integration. This app can also be downloaded for free, but in-app purchases are available to access the app completely. 

Teach Me Anatomy app

 

There are 3D anatomical models, a question bank, >1700 quiz questions, >400 articles covering anatomy, and even >1200 images and HD illustrations.

The app covers all systems and specialties. The app covers both systemic anatomies as well as regional anatomy (head and neck, neuroanatomy, etc).

I like the fact that it can be accessed offline.  This app is like a textbook in a digital format so it includes images and diagrams.  The quizzes are helpful.

Price: Free and Paid

Rating: 4.6/5

Supported in: iOS and Android

 

10. Anatomyka- 3D Anatomy Atlas

Available as a free and paid option, this app is yet another great app to study anatomy. They offer a 5-day free trial as well.

Anatomyka app

 

The free version of the app includes the skeletal system and general anatomy of more than 80 body parts and regions. There are also audio pronunciation and classification of the bones available.

There are some special features in this app, like the different styles (classic atlas, dark atlas, etc), and the ability to set specific colors for the organs and other structures as per choice.  Users can also put labels and highlights.

I like the quality of the graphics and the amount of features of this app.  The landmark feature is great.  This is one top notch 3D anatomy app.

 

Price: Free and paid

Rating: 4.3/5

Supported in: iOS and Android.

 

11. Anatomy and Physiology by Visible Body

This android app covers every system with the help of 3D models, illustrations, animations, and quizzes on anatomy and physiology. 

Anatomy and Physiology app

 

3D models can be viewed from any angle, and various processes can be understood easily with the help of animations. There are 12 units, 50 modules, more than 500 3D views of models, and more than 150 illustrations and animations.

This app also covers definitions and audio pronunciations. It also allows users to create flashcards, bookmark, and track their progress.

I like the fact that this app teaches you both anatomy and physiology.  The videos and quizzes are useful.  The graphics and content are impressive.

 

Price: $34.99

Rating: 4.4/5

Supported in: Android

 

What to Remember When Choosing 

Choosing a 3D anatomy app can be very subjective, as different learners may have different requirements and learning styles. This is why exploring various apps is important, to know what’s best for you.

It is always a good idea to try the free version of the app before buying the full version so that you can see if the app offers everything that you are looking for. Many paid apps also have a free trial period, which should be used to explore the app as well.

 

Click on the following link to see my list of the best interactive biology games.

Can You 3D Print a 3D Printer?


Essentially, 3D printing is a manufacturing technique in which material is placed down in layers to build a three-dimensional object. While 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, its use and popularity have grown in recent years.

3d printers in a row

A significant reason for the recent rise in the use of this technology is that it is a simple technology that can be employed in a wide range of areas. In the past, 3D printer materials were very costly. However, costs have been decreasing in recent years due to advancements in 3D printing technology and materials. 

Taking this into consideration, many people ask,  can you 3D print a 3D printer?

Continue reading “Can You 3D Print a 3D Printer?”

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