A 3D Model of a Prokaryotic Cell | A Study Aid for Students

3D Printed Prokaryotic Cell Model by Amanda Zirzow

This is a model of a prokaryotic cell that can serve as a study aid for students in Biology and Microbiology courses. The idea for the model came from the textbook: Microbiology: An Introduction By Gerard J. Tortora, Berdell R. Funke, and Christine L. Case (Pearson).

“Prokaryotic Cell” – A 3D model drawn in Autodesk 123D Design.


Overview and Background

I love new technology and when I found out about 3D printers, I had to try one out. I taught myself how to create 3D models with a few different applications and created a model of a cell! In the study of biology and microbiology, students learn that all living cells can be classified into two groups: prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. This classification is based on both structural and functional characteristics. The term prokaryote is derived from the Greek words meaning “prenucleus” because one of the key factors that distinguish the prokaryotes is the lack of a nucleus. Other distinguishing features of prokaryotic cells include: – They are smaller than eukaryotic cells – They generally do not have membrane-bound organelles – They usually divide by binary fission – Their DNA is not associated with histones – Their cell walls contain peptidoglycan (a complex polysaccharide).

About the creation process:  I was inspired to create this model for my microbiology students. The technical details with printing instructions are provided on the MakerBot Thingiverse, as an Educational Model. It is free to download and 3D print. 

prokaryotic cell label

Model Printing Instructions

To print this model using the Makerbot Replicator (5th gen.), use the following settings: Raft: yes Support: no; Layer height: 0.1 mm Infill: 20% *Print setting may need to be adjusted based on your specific printer and print material. If using a multicolor printer, you can use the *.amf file to print in color. Otherwise, the model can be printed in a single color and painted. You can instruct students to paint the models as an assignment, or paint them to set up for the assignment. I use Testors Enamel paints and allow ample time for drying. Print the Prokaryotic cell file with the holes if you wish to glue in pipe cleaners for flexible fimbriae and flagella.


Tortora, Gerard J., et al. “Chapter 4: Functional Anatomy of Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells.” Microbiology: an Introduction, Pearson, 2016.

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