3d printing biology

Jess's maker blog

Often in textbooks proteins and molecules are rendered in a way which makes them look made of colorful plastic.  Would love to do an installation of some kids room with instead of toys, hundreds of 3D printed proteins in numerous colors, strewn about floor in a complete mess.  The problem with plastic appearance is that it’s hard and static- ideally proteins would be represented in a wobbly material.  Anyway, I wanted to put my flesh colored filament to good use so I printed some biological stuff, all models via 3dprint.nih.gov


^I love the way the flesh filament looks as your peeling away support material..


^mouse retina neuron from NIH 3dprint, data by eyewire.org


Some nuclear pores.  Below: nuclear pores on an SEM image I took, 100,000x magnification.



^GFP and clathrin cage.  GFP i can never get to print well- need dissolvable support.  Clathrin is a protein which assembles into cages around…

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electronics and sculpture: first post

Jess's maker blog

I’m going to be posting more ideas and experiments in the fabrication/sculpture realm here, as it may contribute to my work in this class, though they may not directly have anything electronic (but maybe later).  It’s my first term in the DCRL and I’m in constant discovery mode.

For now: my first project: (different then a week ago) cytoplasm lamp! (or cytoplasm interactive sculpture)

I am quite interested in how crazy crowded the cytoplasm of a cell is vs. how it is usually shown:


^saddest looking cell ever btw    VS


^This one doesn’t even show water.

How we depict things in science can really change how we learn about them (and dream about them).

 I took a scanning electron micrograph a while back in which I accidentally kicked off a piece of the top of a cell, revealing a dense cytoplasm.  The proteins are not tagged so you cannot tell them…

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laser cut fresnels

Jess's maker blog

I found acrylic fresnel lenses which means I can laser cut them!  Typical floppy magnifying sheets are pvc thus toxic to laser cut.    However the acrylic lenses are a bit thick (1/16″) and the ridges are bigger- they work best with larger shapes, detail gets lost easily with the ridges.


We used transfer tape to minimize stray reflections.



Also, polarizers make the world a better place.



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making the mask 2

Jess's maker blog

screenshot setae4


For the next iteration, I created the ‘exoskeleton’ that wraps around the face.  In this instance, I overcompensated and gave the hairs way too much room and they barely touch the face.  This was more of a test run as I wasn’t sure if I even had the right thickness of material, or how well it would fit the face (it fits me ok, others, not so much)- in the end I ran out of time.  Learned a lot, though..







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Setae design

Jess's maker blog

A good samaritan classmate helped me 3D print some setae to test out size/shape of the hair and it’s base.  I AM ECSTATIC over my first 3D print, it’s wonderful to have a design take shape as material object!






The flesh colored ABS I bought is a little unnerving- I thought it would be shiny but it’s not so it actually kind of looks like skin.  An insect exoskeleton is rigid and armor-like, (and sheer, shiny) so I thought it would be interesting to have an exoskeleton colored the same way as soft skin- now I’m not so sure, maybe a translucent filament would be better.

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