…For one pediatrician at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, named Christopher Kelly, his tree this Christmas will feature ornaments as unique as individual brain wrinkles in each one of our heads. This is because what his tree will be decorated with this holiday season is just that: 3D printed replicas of his own brain. Kelly, who recently started a PhD at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, is currently studying brain development of children with congenital heart problems.
To create the unique Christmas ornament, Kelly used an MRI brain scan that was taken while he was a volunteer for a research project, using a 3 Tesla Scanner. Once scanned, Kelly began the process of turning the date into a 3D printable model of his brain.
“I used one of the ‘T1′ images that was taken,” Kelly tells 3DPrint.com. “This is one of the most commonly used sequences in an MRI scanner, used for medical diagnosis. To get from a 3D image to a 3D model, I used a free package called FreeSurfer to construct a 3D brain model from the T1 scan. This takes around half a day to run on a decent computer. Freesurfer can then export the model of the brain as a STL mesh. [It] inspected the mesh and simplified it a little. I used 3DPrintUK to print the model using their fantastic SLS (selective laser sintering) nylon printer.”
Once the prints were complete, Kelly spray painted them with a silver plastic spray. Now they are ready to be on display for all to see on his Christmas tree. When asked why he decided to create this incredibly unique holiday decoration, Kelly’s response was:
“It was just a slightly random fun thing to do while working in a brain research department, and my wife loves Christmas decorations! It’s had a bit of a mixed reaction – either ‘cool’ or ‘a bit spooky’!”
Kelly has also 3D printed a full size brain, which he says turned out amazing as well. Although it won’t be hanging on his tree, it makes for a great conversation piece and desk ornament….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!