Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Print a Brain

When the creators of the "Your Brain" exhibit at The Franklin Institute tried to make a 3D print of a brain model they were turned away by every 3D printing company they approached. The companies all said the intricate 3D model would be impossible to print.

Then they came to Direct Dimensions.

Having been in business for twenty years, we are always excited to solve "impossible" problems. As experts of 3D model creation we went back to the beginning and approached the problem from a data perspective.

According to Direct Dimensions' Art Director, Harry Abramson: "Fortunately Dr. Voss provided an amazing data set for us to start with. In order to print this at large scale, each of the thousands of strand models would have to be fused to create a single brain model that could then be sliced into printable parts that fit in the build envelope. The whole model would then need engineering and design modifications to ensure that it could be assembled precisely and support itself on its custom mount.
To collaborate on the printing we contacted our friends at American Precision Prototyping. “We went over the size constraints of the build envelope, the volume of the object and our lead time, and very quickly I had a price and APP's guarantee that they could build the brain as long as we could prepare the files,” said Abramson. “What we lacked in budget, we made up with having a long lead time, so the project was a go!” 
The final, giant brain print is the centerpiece of the exhibit.
From APP's story on the project: "It has really become one of the iconic pieces of the exhibit. Its sheer aesthetic beauty takes your breath away and transforms the exhibit space," said Dr. Das. "The fact that it comes from real data adds a level of authenticity to the science that we are presenting. But even if you don't quite understand what it shows, it captures a sense of delicate complexity that evokes a sense of wonder about the brain."
You can read more about this incredible example of 3D printing on the Weill Cornell site or on American Precision Prototyping's page.