Of all the organs in the human body, by far the most complex and least understood is the brain, but now, thanks to the wonders of 3D printing, we may be a small step closer to revealing its mysteries.
We’ve all heard of the brain’s grey matter, and how neurons transmit information in order to run processes that keep our bodies functioning, but not many of us have heard of white matter. This is the complex system of tendrils containing myelinated axons and glial cells that allow these signals to move around the brain. And it was this that scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College wanted to study, by way of 3D printing.
However, in an average 20 year-old male brain, you can expect to find around 176,000 km of myelinated axons, and due to the extraordinary size of the project, many 3D printing companies rejected the project. As the resulting files consisted of over 2,000 strands, the researchers began to worry that they would never find a 3D printing firm that could even open, let alone understand the files. … (Read more)