How to 3D Print an Otoconia-Shaped NFL Football


Here at Vestibular First, we are excited to share our knowledge and passion for the anatomy that makes up the vestibular system as well as NFL Football for Balance Awareness Month!  Sports nerds will be happy to know that this can be printed to regulation size and has the correct lacing dimensions and position as well!

Special thanks to researcher Leif Walther who studied in detail the inner ear crystals, also known as otoconia/otolith.  His research article titled The Inner Structure of Human Otoconia shows in detail multiple cross-sections of otoconia which were used as reference images to make the base model.


Step 1

Find 3D printer or 3D printer service

At full size you will need a medium sized 3D printer.  We used the Prusa MK4 for the one shown.  If you aren’t able to find one, check out a service like Craftcloud.  Use referral code REFN8KMEEQL to get 10% off your order!  Our models are provided in millimeters and we recommend any basic plastic like PLA or SLA for a cost effective printing.

Step 2

Download the model

We have published our models on a 3D design site called Printables which allows people to collaborate and connect on projects.  Please visit the Vestibular First 3D Models page to view this and our other 3D models.

Step 3

Print the models

Each printer and filament is different, however, here are our general recommendations.  Your mileage may vary–so use these settings as just a starting point:

  • Layer Height: 0.30mm
  • Seam Position: Rear
  • Infill: Adaptive Cubic @ 15%
  • Perimeters:  4
  • Supports: On Build Plate Only

Step 4

Assemble the Prints together

  1.  Print both models and remove support
  2. Put some glue (we used gorilla glue) into each of the 16 lace holes.  Do not overfill the holes


  3. Set the laces model into the holes
  4. Secure with rubber bands while drying for best results