We want the whole community to know how easy and fun it is to create an experimentally accurate 3D printed molecules of any part of a crystal structure using our visualisation and analysis tool Mercury.

Get involved in our annual 3D Print Contest to spread the word! The contest runs annually throughout summer, with the winner announced in the Autumn, receiving a $50 gift card from Shapeways.

2020 contest is here! In 2020 our 3D Print Competition launched on the September 16th and will run until November 16th to give more people an opportunity to participate. 


It's easy to take part…

  1. Create a 3D printed model using Mercury and your 3D printer of choice.
  2. Snap a photo of the model.
  3. Share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CSD3DPrint, and don’t forget to tag us (@ccdc_cambridge)!

The model must be yours, designed using Mercury, and can’t be resubmitted from prior years.

How to realise a 3D Print Model file with Mercury? View our self-guided mercury visualisation workshop at this link.

Read the full rules and terms and conditions below. 

Looking for some inspiration? Take a look at some of our previous year’s winners below, or view all the entries on our twitter page here. 

2020 winner: @ARchemisT2020

@ARchemisT2020’s creation “Grubbs Rice Bowl” convinced the judges not only for its beauty, but also for the fun and brilliant idea to bring together something perceived as difficult and complex like a Nobel Prize-winning molecule with something as (apparently) simple and everyday as rice. A really engaging way to get everyone fascinated with structural chemistry!

2019 winner: @VaColomb

@VaColomb created cubic octanuclear clusters in a pyrazolate-based Ni-fcu MOF.  As well as having some great social media engagement on Twitter, our judging panel here at CCDC thought this 3D printed model of a nickel metal-organic framework was very impressive, incorporating a high degree of complexity and detail. The use of a transparent plastic for the printing media, along with the fine detail and porosity of the structure, results in a visually stunning model!

2018 winner: @SKaabel

@SKaabel created a hemicucurbituril inclusion complex featuring a chiral guest molecule.  The CCDC panel of judges enjoyed the visual pun of placing a cucurbituril compound atop a pumpkin which is a member of the genus Cucurbita.

Details of the complex shown in the model can be found in this 2017 RSC publication. 

2018 3d print contest winner


2017 winner: @Canageek

@Canageek from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada developed this U/Au peroxo complex. It could have been for the brilliant use of colour, or the fact that this image reminds scientists to spend some time outside of the lab now and again, but at CCDC we particularly like the incorporation of anisotropic displacement parameters (ADPs) in the model.  Unbeknownst to @Canageek, for the first time ever with the 2018 release the CSD will begin including ADP information for selected entries. 

2017 3d print contest winner


2016 winner: @drclairemurray

The winner of the 2016 contest is @drclairemurray, who is a beamline scientist at Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, UK. Claire’s 3D printed model is of a Pd12 closed, chiral cage molecule, the crystal structure of which was published in Inorganic Chemistry in 2013.

2016 3d print winner


Terms & Conditions:

The following rules apply:

  1. A successful entry must contain a picture of a 3D printed model of a crystal structure, designed using the program Mercury, as well as the hashtag #CSD3DPrint. The model must be the property of the account owner who posts on Twitter or Instagram. The post can contain any other text, hashtags, mentions or links that the poster feels are appropriate.
  2. Entries containing inappropriate language or images will not be considered.
  3. Posts with no pictures or with only links to other sites with pictures cannot be considered – so make sure you include it.
  4. Posts that are "lost" due to failure to include the correct hashtag #CSD3DPrint or due to misspelling of the hashtag will not enter the competition – so make sure you include it correctly!
  5. Only images posted before or on November 16th 2020 will enter the contest.
  6. Submit new models. Previous years' entries will be spotted and will not win!
  7. Judging will take place by a panel of the CCDC’s expert structural chemists and the winner will be chosen by a combination of the judgement of the panel and the engagement obtained by the entry tweets. The decision of the panel is final.
  8. The winner will be announced in December 2020, and will be contacted by the CCDC for address details in order to receive the prize.
  9. The CCDC reserves the right to use pictures, images and text included in tweets with the #CSD3DPrint hashtag in our promotional materials in print, on-line and in presentations without further permission from the author or account owner of the tweet. We will cite and otherwise give credit to the owner of the account that generated the image, when appropriate in the context of the use.

The CCDC reserves the right to cancel the contest without warning and without compensation to individuals who have entered, but we don’t expect this to happen.

For more information or any questions you might have about the contest or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us.