3D printed rodent stereotaxic device

A 3D printed stereotax

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Stereotaxic devices are used to immobilize animals during surgery. Typically they are made of machined metal and are high-precision devices. We wanted to explore whether it would be possible to make one with 3D printing. The advantages of a 3D printed stereotax are a much lower cost, as well as increased flexibility for adding new functionality. For instance, we built a "downdraft" table right into this device for scavenging anesthetic gasses. Aside from the 3D parts, this costs ~$8 to build, with almost all of that cost being the fancy thumb screws :)

This 3D printed stereotaxic device was designed to be simple, modifiable, and low profile.  It includes a gas anesthesia mask which has a vacuum line attached to the mask, as well as a mini down-draft table below the animal to scavenge excess gas.  

Disclaimer: your printer might not print air-tight parts, so if you use this with anesthetic gasses make sure to monitor for leaks - if you can smell the anesthetic gas it means there's a leak and you should stop using it!  Coating the parts with acrylic or epoxy may reduce leaks. 

This project is released under the terms of the Creative Commons - Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 license:

human readable:
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This project was based on an earlier design by John E Martin that was generously shared with me by the author.

STLs for 3D designs

x-zip-compressed - 459.26 kB - 01/20/2019 at 17:39


View all 6 components

  • Real world test!

    Lex Kravitz3 days ago 0 comments

    A colleague of mine at Wash U, Niko Massaly, hooked the device up to an anesthesia machine today and we were happy to find out it worked great!  He had some suggestions for improving the mask design but the device worked well in this first test.

  • First print

    Lex Kravitz01/20/2019 at 17:47 0 comments

    Still needs testing but it looks good!

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Print out the six 3D parts.

    Note: you'll need to print two of the ear bars.  

    STL files are in the files area and can be used for printing.  If you need to edit the design it was made in TinkerCAD, and edit-able files are available here.

  • 2
    Glue the brass inserts into the clamp, mask, and base

    These inserts can be glued in place with 5-minute epoxy.  Make sure they dry straight!

  • 3
    Screw threaded hose barbs into the mask and clamp.

View all 4 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Ted Yapo wrote 01/20/2019 at 19:57 point

Those rats have been listening to music without paying their fair share...

TIL what stereotaxic surgery is. Thanks!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sophi Kravitz wrote 01/20/2019 at 19:29 point

My printer does ABS too, does yours? 

I never tested a print for airtight, but I think a high tech way to test could be soapy water... bubbles have a way of sneaking into tiny holes (guessing). I feel like you could do the same with smoke. Maybe light something on fire inside and wait to see if smoke comes out? Hmm.... but then you'd burn the plastic which is kinda a problem :P.  

yeah, I'd just wait for the resin printer lol

  Are you sure? yes | no

Lex Kravitz wrote 01/22/2019 at 16:38 point

Cool ideas!  This is an open system which delivers gas to the mouse through a mask.  So the mask has a large output port for gas delivery, which is a potential source of leaks.  The question becomes whether the excess gas from the output is being scavenged safely enough.  The low-tech way of determining this is that the gas has an odor, so if you can smell the gas the scavenging system is not working well enough.  I like your idea (and Dan's below) for testing whether there are additional leaks through the 3D printed material itself, it would be cool to verify this even with the resin printer!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Lex Kravitz wrote 01/20/2019 at 18:30 point

My printer is PLA, so it's likely not airtight.  One way to test if it's airtight is if the gas has an odor and the odor is detectable it means it's leaking.  I don't know any more high-tech ways to detect leaks though...

I just ordered a resin printer though which will be air-tight so I'm planning to re-print these parts with that!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 01/22/2019 at 16:14 point

Could you pressurize it with an equivalent inert gas and use a pressure gauge to monitor any loss of pressure?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Lex Kravitz wrote 01/22/2019 at 16:32 point

That's a good idea!  We could plug the output port (or print a version with the output port filled in), pressurize it and check... I'll look into doing this, it sounds like a fun weekend project, exploding 3D printed parts with pressurized gas :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sophi Kravitz wrote 01/20/2019 at 18:24 point

Lex!!! This looks excellent. Does your printer do airtight? What's a good way to test?

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