June 29, 2014

What is in your brain? What does your brain do? How does it work? Brain science is advancing rapidly, making it possible to unravel age-old mysteries about ourselves. However scientists still haven't found out all the answers.

If this topics interests you, it will be fun to visit Your Brain, The Franklin Institute's newest, AND biggest, exhibition that invites you to think about how you think.

This exhibit will make visitors an integral part of the exhibit experience as they travel through a two-story tall neural network climbing structure with dynamic lighting and sound effects that are triggered by your footsteps, according to The Franklin Institute. "They will use their brains to explore their world by traveling through a street scene filled with multi-sensory information and scenarios from everyday life."

One central feature is an intricate and stunning 3D printed model of the white matter patterns in the brain. Lead exhibit developer Dr. Jayatri Das, Chief Bioscientist at The Franklin Institute, explained why they have chosen 3D printing to create the piece:

"Our philosophy behind our exhibits is to make real science approachable through hands-on, engaging exhibits," said Dr. Das. "From an educational point of view, we knew that the concept of functional pathways needed to be an important aspect of brain science that was addressed in the exhibit, and diffusion tensor imaging gets to the heart of the real science through which scientists try to understand the wiring of these pathways. The 2D images we had seen were really beautiful, so we thought that a large-scale 3D print would be perfect as an intriguing, eye-catching sculpture that would serve as both a unique design focus and a connection to research."

The human brain consists of white and gray matter. The white matter of the brain contains fibers that connect gray matter areas of the brain with each other. Using an MRI scan of a 40-year-old man, Dr. Henning U. Voss, Associate Professor of Physics in Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College helped the museum to create 3D data file of the white matter patterns.

However the 3D data file was so huge and complex, making it a challenge to 3D print it. The model had about 2,000 white matter strands in the data!

"Everyone told us it was way too complex to handle on a 3D printer," said Donna Claiborne, Exhibit Project Manager at The Franklin Institute. "We were surprised because everything we knew about 3D printing said that it was good with complex shapes."

Finally the team found Direct Dimensions of Owing Mills, MD., a company that has an extensive track record working with extremely complex forms for 3D printing and digital art fabrication.

"This work required a highly skilled technician with just the right disposition. Without the right human resources, this project would have never happened," said Harry Abramson, Art Director for Direct Dimensions. "With about 2,000 strands to sort through, it was a task of immense proportions. Mind boggling in fact."

The Direct Dimensions team worked with American Precision Printing (APP) to print the model using a sProHD 60 SLS 3D printer from 3D Systems. The SLS technology uses layers of plastic powder that are fused into a 3D definition by powerful CO2 lasers. But since the model was 26 inches long, and the SLS machine has build size of 18 inches, the team had to print 10 abstract pieces into one single part.

The team used 20-22 hours for each piece to be printed out. Once the pieces came out of the printer, they started to map and assemble the pieces into the finished model.

The final piece was mounted in a Plexiglas box with lighting underneath the 3D printed model, forms a stunning centerpiece to the exhibit.

"The 3D printed model is awesome and utterly exceeds even my most optimistic expectations." Said Dr. Voss. "This was a fantastic project with an amazing team of people who made it come together."

'Your Brain opens' on June 14th at The Franklin Institute.


Source: 3D Systems

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Jake wrote at 2/12/2016 5:41:44 AM:

Where can I find the 3D files?

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