Bert's Brain Emerges
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
After a total of 8 hours of printing and tending to the robot, the brain was finally fully printed.
The brain measures at 560mm x 670mm x 370mm and weighs 75 kg
Through this experience, I learned more about the different ways 3D printing could be used in medical practice, for education and research. I consulted with Dr. Mike Quirk, an MIT PhD, who offered advice on practical applications. Here's a running list of what we came up with so far:
Demonstrating effects of tumors:
3D printing a normal healthy brain and a brain with a tumor to show how the localization of tumors affects different regions of the brain. Some neurosurgeons have also been utilizing this by modeling the brain to strategize the process of removing a tumor.
Outlining the evolution of the brain:
The human brain is an organ which has evolved from more primitive brains. 3D printing brains in different cross-sections can show how structures evolve over time. For example, structures like the brain stem are primal while the cortex is relatively newer.
Mapping white and grey brain matter:
Further down the line, with a multi material 3D printer, you can print with different materials to differentiate white and grey matter. White matter is involved with communication and information transfer while grey matter is involved with processing the information. 3D printing with the dual material would aid in understanding of the relationship between white and gray matter in different structures of the brain.
Something else to explore is 3D printing with a material that has similar conductivity to that of white and grey matter. These 3D prints could be used as models for experiments to improve detection algorithms.
This is the next phase of my research project and something that I will be working on.
In the meantime, I plan to donate the 3D printed brain to a museum or a similar institution. My hope is that this will spread more interest in the brain, 3D printing and the innumerable ways it can help research and education, especially in the field of medicine.
A special thank you to New Jersey Water Jet and SpaceFactory for the creation and design of the base.