3D printed model of cellular division

[Read the post]


STL file would be nice!


Beautiful! :slight_smile:

Thought: 3d printing from transparent resins. An inkjet with six materials - CMYK inks, resin, support gel. This way we could have all sorts of models for easy visualisation.


3d printed, sure, but where did the data come from? Actual yeast, or a sculptor? Because yay 3d and all, but I’m a lot more impressed by the sculptor.


There are many sculptors out there. A technology for 3d-nanoscanning (or 3d-microscopy) of cells is way more interesting.


What a cool way to teach kids (… and some adults-who-learned-STEM-in-a-county-in-California-with-depressed-real-property-market-value-after-Proposition-13).


This is how golden snitches reproduce.


A 3D print in wax that was reproduced in bronze using an updated version of ancient technology.It’s great living in the future!

Bronze items can also be produced by sintering which can also be a partially “3D printed” process.


It’s sculpture (thanks for the kind words!). My lab works on cell biology and biochemistry using budding yeast as a model, so we spend a lot of time staring at microscope images of dividing cells and certain structures they contain. For example, those starburst-like things represent RNA/protein clusters that assemble during stress conditions like heat shock. We study these clusters, called heat shock granules, as a model for the formation of many similar structures under a wide range of environmental conditions. (You can read a blog post about our recent paper about this here.) The composition and structure of these clusters – and even whether they have solid boundaries at all – remains unclear. Inside membrane-bound compartments like the cytosol, we’re learning that there exist a whole range of colloidal states, intermixed liquid phases, hydrogels, semi-crystalline solids, etc., many of them undergoing dynamic rearrangements on timescales from microseconds to hours. That’s one reason why sculpture, in the sense of creating a representative form, was all but a forced move for this piece. As you say, improved imaging, coupled with algorithmic methods for converting data into 3D-printable structures, will change the way we learn about and interact with biological data at this subcellular scale. That’s where we’re going.



Better imaging techniques are needed.

What about scanning xray nanodiffraction?

(…would this be possible to rig as a xray nanodiffraction tomography, to get a 3d model?)

Also, what about light-field microscopy, using fluorescent labels?

Another thought. Would the oriented structures (liquid crystal-like ones, e.g. microtubule bundles) show in polarized light? Could that be leveraged?

For time-changing structures, what about simultaneous or quasi-simultaneous (rapid sequence) of different imaging modes - optical, polarized, fluorescence?

Scanning tunneling microscopy (or maybe even just scanning electrons) on a broken surface of a flash-frozen cell, correlated with optical imaging of the same?

What about scanning helium ion microscope? You could image the thing layer by layer and mill the layers away in the same machine.

I’d suggest to leverage virtual reality. Printing is nice, very nice, and gives tangible objects. VR visualisation lacks the material presence but can be quite cheaper and gives much more flexibility for visualisations (and fine-tuning for the models before printing). I’d guess good results could be achieved even with point clouds or translucent voxels, if you couldn’t get much work sunk into the graphic engine.

Could also allow visualisations of models for simulation of the processes, and be more user-friendly than the usual 2d screen.


Lots of great ideas. Notably, a focused ion beam reconstruction study of a budding yeast cell – exactly the process of milling away the sample and imaging – has been done (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22780318), and I consulted it closely when building the model for scale and morphology.

As for the other methods, the light field microscope seems promising in prototype. The things Eric Betzig’s doing with lattice light sheet microscopy take your breath away (https://vimeo.com/album/3098015), and get at the high time-resolution regime needed to study fast dynamics. For our part, we’re interested in different questions – perhaps confusingly, when I say “that’s where we’re going” above I mean the field more broadly.

For example, to determine the molecular composition of these RNA/protein granules, other methods are far more useful than imaging. My group uses mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing to answer these questions. We also pursue in vitro reconstitution from purified components, driving toward a mechanistic understanding of particular functions for these granules which will play an important part alongside the large-scale in situ reconstructions of locations and behaviors granted by imaging. The 3D printing, to be clear, is a fun and hopefully inspiring hobby; the dividing-cell model itself was a gift for a departing postdoc. But the response to the one image I tweeted has been eye-opening and has made me (and I hope others) think more deeply about doing more at this intersection.

1 Like

Whoa, it’s actually done!

Not so surprising - I saw that tech used for imaging integrated circuits, the tech is used for reverse engineering, process development for newer, smaller tech nodes, and postmortem analysis of failed chips.


How are you selecting the site for sampling, and taking the samples?

Could the ion beam microscope be coupled with a MS analyzer, for the molecules knocked out of the sample and perhaps in-situ ionized?

Could the spatial distribution of the backscatter electrons be used for assessing of the crystallinity and orientation of the sample?

I smell major implications for nanotechnology, namely of self-assembly of complex structures, possibly even smart materials that change structures in response to stimuli (e.g. the pH-driven self-assembly, maybe by extension light-driven changes along the lines of photochromic dyes but in the supramolecular realm).

Fun, certainly, and inspiring as well! And that’s a nice gift! :smiley:

Visualisations (and that includes printouts) have a major impact on people. Some books with large, lavish, highly detailed illustrations of cells drove me to sniff around biology (and biochemistry by extension) when I was a kid.

Definitely do more!


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.