When studying human bones, there are any number of issues that arise, not the least of which is the procurement of the bones to be studied. This difficulty is exacerbated when dealing with samples that represent rare or unusual traits such as the presence of extra bones or those with abnormal openings, known as foramina (foramen sing). When such samples have been collected and preserved, they are often too rare or valuable to allow the students who need to examine them to have access to them.
The introduction of 3D printing as a vital didactic tool is changing this through the creation of printed replicas that can be handled and examined often and replaced easily as necessary. Researchers from the University of Bourdeaux have been working to develop a virtual collection of paleo-specimens in order to facilitate their reproduction for study. This project is the result of an inter-disciplinary collaboration among four researchers from PACEA and LaBRI Laboratories: anthropologist Hélène Coqueugniot, computer science professor Pascal Desbarats, computer engineer Bruno Dutailly, and paleopathologist Olivier Dutour. The resulting patented operating chain, Vircopal (virtual collection of paleo specimens), represents an important coming together to make these paleo-resources available.
The first step in the addition of specimens to the database is the utilization of x-ray to scan the internal structures of the bones. That data is combined with other data gathered through an image processing software, developed specifically for this by Dutailly. This image processing allows for the separation of various tissues and the creation of sufficiently detailed digital models that can then be turned into high quality 3D prints. These prints can be created at a variety of scales depending on the aspects to be emphasized and can include reproduction of internal structures in the form of a section to allow students to observe them up close.
There is more to this than just the production of models for students. Hélène Coqueugniot explained the broader implications of the abilities to produce these models:
“This methodology allows us to have a better understanding of past and present populations by studying, for example, developmental and growth processes. Moreover, in paleopathology (the study of diseases affecting ancient populations), this method provides quantitative results for some infectious diseases.”
We’ve seen an explosion of uses for 3D printed models in the medical field ranging from models to prepare for delicate surgery to models of animal skeletal systems in veterinary education. In addition, more and more museums and scientists are using the production of 3D printed models as a way to allow rare specimens to become the object of common study and as a method for sharing samples around the world as easily as emailing a digital file. So it seems only natural to find yet another area in which this process makes a significant contribution.
With the study of the bones of the past comes information about the present, as diseases that were once thought to be residents of ancient history make a resurgence these models can be important tools for current medical research. However, even if the bones present a situation that will never again be replicated, understanding it unlocks clues to the history of human kind that are too valuable to ignore.
What are your thoughts on educational specimen? Let us know in the 3D Printed Bone Specimen forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Spanish Clothing Company Mango Backs Ziknes 3D Printed Furniture Made with Recycled Materials
With its trendy and affordable designs that resonate globally—and €2.3 in annual revenues—Mango is boldly stepping into the realm of innovation and technology. Through its Mango StartUp Studio accelerator, the...
3D Printing News Briefs, November 25, 2023: Housing, Seed Funding, & More
We’re starting with additive construction news in this Thanksgiving weekend edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to seed funding and a Memorandum of Understanding. Finally, we’ll...
Dyndrite Advances 3D Printing Materials at Formnext 2023
Dyndrite has teamed up with Constellium, Elementum 3D, and Sandvik to launch the industry-led Materials Consortium for additive manufacturing (AM). This collaborative initiative is meant to democratize the landscape of...
1000Kelvin’s AI-Powered Autocorrect for 3D Printing Now Commercially Available
1000Kelvin, the US-Germany software as a service (SaaS) startup specializing in AI-powered solutions for additive manufacturing (AM), has announced the commercial launch of its signature AMAIZE platform at Formnext 2023...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.