Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: schvin02

4th Iteration

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Right Piece Dimensions / X=28.86mm /Y=59.37mm/Z=29.47mm

Left Piece Dimensions / X=29.58mm /Y=59.42mm /Z=34.53mm

Peg Dimensions / X= 4.06mm /Y=4.06mm /Z= 13.18

Volume = 17 grams

Time took to print= 85 mins


For my project I have been working on building an artistic replica of the lumbar section of the human spine suffering from Spastic Cerebral Palsy. As I was researching what a section of spine looks like, I realized I did not just want to 3D scan a section of vertebra or just get a format for a vertebra off of Thing-a-verse. This is also when I realized that if I was going to draw and create this piece from my own designs it was going to be more of an artist’s interpretation than an anatomically perfect replica. This bottom to top approach to my project was an important decision for shaping my idea as a whole. I wanted to focus my project on the people and the idea and to me going through the whole process step by step allowed me to channel my thoughts and energies toward those goals rather than towards creating a perfect vertebra. Working with my own designs and learning how to do all the different things necessary to bring my pieces to life also meant that I got to learn more in general about the software, equipment, and nuances of 3D printing. Doing it myself, I felt that I was getting more out of the class and the whole experience and not cheating myself out of an opportunity to learn. The 3D modeling environment also had an effect on how my idea progressed. Seeing and testing out all of the different modeling tools meant that I could choose the best path for printing my vertebra in the style I intended. This meant taking my 2D sketches from different views of the same vertebra, and tracing them in Adobe Illustrator before transferring them into TinkerCAD. TinkerCAD made those sketches into block shapes, which I was able to use to sculpt a 3D artistic replica of a lumbar vertebra. My job didn’t end there. The physical restraints of the printer itself also took a toll on how I created my vertebra. My object as it stood posed some problems for the printer. There was not any flat surface to start the print job from so I had to find one in the shape. I achieved this by slicing my piece in half along its central axis so that I was left with two roughly symmetrical pieces each with its own smooth flat surface upon which to rest as they printed. Because of how long the printing process is for printing my vertebra, and because all of my peers also need to use the resources, I realized that it would be unreasonable to print another separate section of spine that is healthy to go along with my spine with C.P., as was my original plan. The next step is to assemble my spine from my printed pieces and some other materials I’ve collected. Using wire and a sculpted foam column to account for the soft tissue aspects of the spinal column my printed pieces will be mounted to display how they would look in life, in a person. I look forward to working on my project and sharing my progress and my idea as it evolves.

vinny_spine-1 vinny_spine-4vinny_spine-3

CST Field Notes Week 8

December 1st 2014

“What I mean is that image How things Shape the Mindmakes it possible for the visual apparatus to interrogate itself and thus acquire a previously unavailable sense of perceptual awareness.”(Malafouris, 2o4)


In Week 8 it became apparent to me that there were some people in our class that were having troubles with the book ‘How Things Shape Mind’, while others in the class seem to be fully grasping the concepts of the book. One of the students that was having trouble asked me for help with chapter 8. I was able to help them understand some of the concepts in ch. 8 better then had they had previously understood. And isn’t this what the Maker Community is about people with diverse strengths and abilities come together to teach and learn from each other to create amazing things.

3rd Iteration

How might we preserve the human body in the future?

josh's new spine

‘Hopeful Future’ for my best friend. Backround picture taken from (.) Picture of the spine taken from (Lee, Jason. “3D-printed Vertebra Used in Spine Surgery.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.)


I think that one option is to explore the ways that 3d printing can aid in reliving the effects of disease and disorder on the human skeletal structure. I want to create a 3D printed section of spine suffering from the affects of Cerebral Palsy.

Spastic Quadriplegic cerebral palsy

X-ray picture of a spine from a patient with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. (

Interestingly, as I worked on this assignment I found that the actual process of taking pictures and choosing and manipulating images affected my project more then the actual images did themselves. The first pictures I took were of my friend Josh. Going over to his house and talking with him about my project and taking pictures was a real reminder of the reason I chose this topic to begin with. Discussing his Cerebral Palsy with him really brought the whole thing into a very personal light and reminded me that its about people as well as printing. Working with the images also helped me consider the visual aspect of the work that I am doing. Seeing actual spines, and comparing them with my own prototypes highlighted the similarities and the differences between them. While I realize that the vertebra I have printed are artistic representations they are nonetheless recognizable. I feel that this small detail is what really matters. Because even if they aren’t perfect, if people know what they are, my idea still gets out there.


Combination picture of a spine model, a spine model implanted with a traditionally used titanium tube and a spine model implanted with a 3D printed artificial axis, are seen at Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing

3d printed Vertebra Implant. (Lee, Jason. “3D-printed Vertebra Used in Spine Surgery.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.)



Image of a real lumbar vertebra. (“Lumbar Vertebrae.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. .)


Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.09.56 AM

Screenshot of my project in progress. This shot shows how i had slice the vertebra in half in order, for it to be able to print. The shot also shows the dimensions of one of the halves.



I took this picture showing the 3d printer in the printing process, printing the vertebra i designed.




This is an image I took of one of the 3d printed vertebra that i designed.


This  Work Cited is still in progress. Thank you for your patience.

Work Cited

Military Wallpapers – Desktop Wallpapers. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

Lee, Jason. “3D-printed Vertebra Used in Spine Surgery.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <>.

2014. Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing. By Jason Lee.

“Lumbar Vertebrae.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <>.


CST Field Notes Week 7

November 17th, 2014

“You can use evolutionary algorithms in the sim and come up with really efficient designs, in theory. And computers are cheaper than engineers.” “Is that why you were laid off?” Suzanna said. (Doctorow, 73)

IMG_4368 IMG_4341

Last week as people were printing of there projects, I reflected on Sara Redden statement(“It would become abused. Just as much as it would be used for good, it will be abused.”) to Week 6 question i asked.(What would be the implications of 3D printing becoming a ‘transparent’ tool or ‘second nature’?)

What might the “good” things be that come out of this tool of production? The project i am currently working on is make a replicas of lumbar vertebrae. Another classmate of mine Daniel Loose is making a Bra for Women in transition.

CST Field Notes Week 6

November 10th, 2014

“You can use evolutionary algorithms in the sim and come up with really efficient designs, in theory. And computers are cheaper than engineers.” “Is that why you were laid off?” Suzanna said. (Doctorow, 73)

What would be the implications of 3D printing becoming a ‘transparent’ tool or ‘second nature’?; Is the Question I posed to some of my classmates.

I was particularly interested in Sara Redden answer. “Masses of shit. It would become abused. Just as much as it would be used for good, it will be abused.”

I believe that it is very well possible that if the 3D printer becomes a ‘second nature’ tool in the majority of the population, that it will become abused. And I don’t think it is a matter of if but when this happens. Lipson and Kurman state in Frabricated, “In the not-so-distant future, people will 3D print living tissue, nutritionally calibrated food, and ready-made, fully assembled electronic components.” (7)

So as we move in to this transition of change, We need to do so with caution.



Iteration #1

How might we preserve the human body in the future?



My best friend Josh M. suffers from spastic cerebral palsy. “This form of the condition causes muscles to stiffen, which makes movement difficult” (Cerebral Palsy). Josh used to wear braces on his legs, he eventually decided to take them off after years of pain, not only in his legs and back, but the mental pain from other children bullying of him. My best friend honestly believes that he will be in a wheelchair before the age of 50 because of the effects on his body from his condition and every day with work and life. I was telling Josh about my class and how I was working with 3-D printers and how we can almost print anything, about how people are already using it to print functioning human organs, when he interrupted me. He said “Dude, print me a spine.” I said “that’s it, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to print you a spine.” Knowing that I can’t currently print my friend a functioning spine, my idea is to build some type of 3-D replica of a section of spine suffering from spastic cerebral palsy, and then some kind of replica of a spine fixed with 3d printed parts.

Humans have been trying to preserve the human body for thousands of years, from mummification in Egypt to modern day western medicine. For the ancient Egyptians it was part of their religion to preserve the body in death (Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Egyptian Mummies). For most modern-day humans however, we are trying to preserve the body in life. We are trying to preserve our bodies in order to live longer, happier, and more productive lives. I believe that using the 3-D printing technology in the medical field in order to preserve our bodies in life is one of the most important uses of this technology.

3D printing technology in the medical field has already changed lives and is currently changing lives today. As I was telling Josh before he interrupted me, there are already people out there living with 3D printed organs. During my research for this project and course I happened upon a video involving this use of 3D printing for medical purposes. The video was a TEDtalk by Anthony Atala. Atala and his of professionals work in the field of research pertaining to organ transplants and the culture of the different necessary cells in the human body. In the video after a brief coverage of the other progress made in the field the lead up to his work (such as discovering how to grow cells in a petri dish) Atala begins discussing his work with printing. One thing that was particularly interesting to me was when he discussed how he first started printing tissues. The printer they were using was a modified “desktop inkjet printer”. They had reworked this regular printer so that instead of ink it printed layers with cells of different tissues. With this technique Atala and his team were able to print out a needed piece of bone and have it implanted. They have also done work with soft tissue organs. An example of a life that has already been changed by this aspect of 3D technology is that of Luke Massella. Luke Massella received a 3D printed kidney when he was a child.

“I was really sick. I could barely get out of bed. I was missing school. It was pretty much miserable. I couldn’t go out and play basketball at recess without feeling like I was going to pass out when I got back inside. I felt so sick. I was facing basically a lifetime of dialysis,and I don’t even like to think about what my life would be like if I was on that. So after the surgery, life got a lot better for me. I was able to do more things. I was able to wrestle in high school. I became the captain of the team, and that was great. I was able to be a normal kid with my friends. And because they used my own cells to build this bladder, it’s going to be with me. I’ve got it for life, so I’m all set” (Transcript of “Printing a human kidney”).

Luke Massella life is already changed for the better. Atala is not the only one working in this interesting subject. Doctors in China have begun to use this technology for medical applications as well. A 12-year old patient from China named Qin Minglin received a 3D printed vertebra to replace a vertebra destroyed by a tumor. Doctors there used a “novel device was made from titanium powder and included a series of tiny pores which will allow the bone to grow and bond to the structure as it heals” (First-ever 3D-printed vertebra implanted in 12-year-old cancer patient’s spine, 2014). This is another example of a life changing procedure made possible by 3D printing.

This last usage of the technology really excites me. Not only is it akin to my own project, but knowing that these capabilities exist and are successful makes the future look a whole lot brighter for my best friend Josh.


 Work Cited


“Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy. Gallaudet University. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

Atala, Anthony. “Transcript of “Printing a Human Kidney”” Anthony Atala: Printing a Human Kidney. TED, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.

“Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Egyptian Mummies.” Encyclopedia Smithsonian: EgyptiaMummies. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“First-ever 3D-printed Vertebra Implanted in 12-year-old Cancer Patient’s Spine.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.”








October 27th, 2014

“You can use evolutionary algorithms in the sim and come up with really efficient designs, in theory. And computers are cheaper than engineers.” “Is that why you were laid off?” Suzanna said. (Doctorow,73)

One of the Questions i choose to ask the fellow Makers in my class last week was “If they thought that the 3d printer could one day become transparent?”

Chuck Neudorf answer to my question was the one that got me thinking most. “The current mechanical limitations are the only thing holding it back from becoming ‘transparent’ .”

I believe this to be true and it lead me to another Question. If the 3d printer does become transparent what would be the implications of this? What jobs might we loss and might we gain? How might the labor force be affected? Can this be a good thing?


CST Field Notes #2

October 20th, 2014

“What’s with the jungle gym?”(Doctorow,100)

“Most people don’t even notice it. They think its daycare or something. Well, that’s how it started out. Some of the sensor people started noodling with jungle gym components that could tell how often they were played with. They started moding the gym every night, adding variations on the elements that saw the most action, removing the duds. Then the CAD people added an algorithm that would take the sensor data and generate random variations on the same basis. Finally, some of the robotics people got in on the act so that the best of the computer-evolved designs could be instantiated automatically: now it’s a self-modifying jungle gym.” (Doctorow,100)

Knowing this story isn’t true, I am still excited to think about a piece of work that can be the product of collaboration. I wonder what projects will be created through the collective efforts of individuals in the Making Meaning Matter class. What will people decide to work together on and how will they work together? Are people outside of the class going to be interested with are projects? Will they be asking my classmates and I about the projects they or we have collaborated on? What will are “Jungle gyms” be?nylon_steel_bike

CST Field notes

October 5th, 2014

“That brings us back to the question of your relationship with Kodacell. They want to do what, exactly,  with you?” “Well, we’ve been playing with some mass production techniques, the three-D printer and so on. When Kettlebelly called me, he said that he wanted to see about using the scanner and so on to make a lot of these things, at a low price point.” (34 Doctorow)

Reading this section of the book discussing the mass production capabilities of the 3-D printer made me think about other things currently being printed with these machines. I was reminded of a TedTalk video that I saw about three-D printers being used in the medical field to print living human organs. The consequences of this technique for medical applications,  both good and bad, were of particular interest to me. Could this the be the cure to heart disease? To lung cancer? To cancer in general? If this is the case,  what would be the repercussions? I began to wonder if our bodies were easy to replace and repair, if we might began to treat them as disposable. Like the old iPod in the book, scuffed..and meant to be replaced in a year.

3d printed organipod