Art Imitates Life

Is it true that art imitates life, or that life imitates art?
However, it makes no difference to the beauty of the thing.

Elena Malott,

A high school student from McNair academic high school in new jersey used additive manufacturing to create a larger than life brain using an experimental robotic printer designed for space applications.
The brain was modelled from real-world MRI data,

The 3Dprinted brain is 4 times bigger than the subject’s actual brain and measures 560mm x 670mm x 370mm tall.
Using Open source software to transform the MRI scans into a 3D surface model,

after which she sliced and converted to robotic tool paths.
The brain which weighs 75kg was printed using recycled plastic pellets and it took approximately 8 hours to print.

Back to the Digital then physical and back again

Malott utilised a commercial beta version of the robotic 3D print system designed and produced by AI space factory, past winners of the 2019 NASA centennial challenge/ 3D printed mars habitat challenge.

which guided the printing process.
David Malott Spacefactory founder is the father of Elena Malott.

Malott says MRI scans and 3D printing are identical in the way they both use ‘slicing’
-a process of encoding 3D dimensional objects as stacked, 2-D layers- But work in reverse.

this is where MRI deconstructs real-world objects into digital images, additive manufacturing begins with a virtual model and is then built up,

layer by layer to become a physical object.

The new jersey student hopes her study will help guide between physical and digital imaging,

facilitating medical advancements such as machine-assisted surgery and 3D bioprinting.
She further explains

“We have a long way to go before bioprinting a functioning organ, let alone something as sophisticated as the brain,” he says,

“but the implications would be life-changing.”


Malott is starting the second phase of her study by designing 3D print materials with identical electro-conductive properties as white matter and grey matter- the organic parts that make up the brain.

Malott plans to donate the 3D printed brain to an institution or museum with the hope of inspiring younger children to pursue studies in STEM.

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