3D-Printed Neuroscience Models for Everyone
Monday, February 3, 2020
by: Caroline H. Wilson, Chapman University

Section: Features

The Brain Awareness Campaign Event at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in November was a celebration of outreach achievements from all over the world. Led by Bill Griesar and Jeff Leake (founders of NW Noggin, a volunteer-driven outreach organization), the event explored many creative ways people share neuroscience in their communities. The NW Noggin team decorated the lecture stage with large, elaborate neurons made from colorful pipe cleaners and life-size 3D-printed brain models. While the neurons were quite stunning, the 3D-printed brains captured my eye, as I was attending the meeting to share my experiences using 3D-printed anatomy models in undergraduate courses (SFN meeting presentation # 024.13SU/LLL27). I left the event wondering, how many of us are making our own 3D-printed neuroscience models and how many of us would benefit if we could share them quickly and easily?

3D-Printed brain anatomy models captured with MRIs (Figure 1) or CTs provide realistic materials for neuroscience courses or brain awareness outreach events. Once created, the files are easily shared and modified for customized printing. Once you obtain a printer (costs range from ranges hundreds to thousands of dollars), printing is relatively inexpensive. By using smaller scaled-down versions and hollowing the center of the model, a Poly lactic acid brain such as those in Figure 1 can cost less than $1.

If you create neuroscience-related models based on scans or through design software, would you be interested in sharing them? Or are you already sharing them online (in venues like the NIH 3D print exchange website)? If you are in- terested in 3D printing, would a website that hosts downloadable files be of interest to you and if so, what kind of support do you think you would need to begin your own 3D printing? FUN members, please reach out to me if you’d like to chat, share files, or develop ideas to bring 3D printing into the classroom and your outreach events. You can reach me at: cawilson@chapman.edu.
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