3D printers are doing some amazing things for medical science and have already shown promise for producing ears and other transplant organs, creating a baby’s airway and making prosthetic limbs. Unfortunately, this isn’t a working brain that can be used for transplants, it’s only a plastic model.
If you have access to an MRI scan of your own brain and want to 3D print a model of it imgur user intirb has created a tutorial on how it can be done. If you don’t have the required MRI scan data then intirb suggests you go to your local university psychology or neuroscience department to participate in some research as a volunteer.
Once you’ve obtained the brain scan data, assuming they find one, you’ll need to convert it into a format that a 3D printer can understand. intirb used FreeSurfer to process the MRI scan in order to get the brain’s grey matter boundary.
“This computation takes quite a while. On your standard desktop machine, it’ll probably take 2 days or even longer”, remarks intirb on the MRI data processing.
Using a tool called mris_convert within FreeSurfer you will be able to convert the brain surface file to the .stl format, but make sure that your brain has less than 20,000 faces so that your 3D printer’s software can handle the complexity of the resulting model. The model in the photo was printed on a MakerBot 3D printer and took around 2 – 3 hours to complete.
Perhaps one day 3D printer technology will be able to produce a working human brain, but until then we are at risk from being unable to control a zombie invasion.