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Making data matter

A multimaterial, voxel-printing method turns imaging datasets into physical objects

13-Jun-2018

The Mediated Matter Group / MIT Media Lab

The 291,362 colored line segments in this 3D-printed model of a human brain represent bundles of axons that connect different regions of the brain, color-coded based on their orientation in 3D space.

The Mediated Matter Group / MIT Media Lab

This structure is a physical representation of a simulation of pressure being applied to a square tube, with red areas representing the greatest deformation

The Mediated Matter Group / MIT Media Lab

A computational fluid simulation of white and green fluids mixing in a transparent volume was freeze-framed and 3D printed using multiple materials to indicate the intermingling liquids.

The Mediated Matter Group / MIT Media Lab

A 3D-printed model of the protein crystal structure of Apolipoprotein A-I, a dataset containing 6,588 points for each atom and 13,392 line segments for each interatomic bond.

The world is awash in digital images, from photographs to x-rays to computer models to 3D scans. The advent of 3D printing has made it possible to take imaging data and print it into physical representations, but the process of doing so has been prohibitively time-intensive and costly.

A new data processing method developed through a joint collaboration between the Wyss Institute and the MIT Media Lab removes that roadblock by converting various different forms of complex 3D data into a stack of high resolution “dithered bitmaps” which preserves extremely fine details and material gradients present in the source files. The researchers hope that this “bridging of the gap between digital information representation and physical material composition” will help democratize 3D printing and eventually allow anyone to print an accurate, detailed, full-color 3D model of almost anything imaginable.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • 3D-printing
  • voxels
  • 3d imaging
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