Femur? I hardly ... um ...
March 1, 2011 11:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I get an accurate physical model (object) of my femur?

I'm a tall guy, 6'5", and I think about how big my femur must be. I mean it's the largest and longest bone in the human body, so a tall person's femur must be pretty huge.

I would love to have a model of my femur that I could put above the mantle. I want to be able to take it down and hand it to someone and say, "This is why I don't fit in an airline seat without discomfort."

Or, you know, something like that.

So how could I get a 3D model scan of my femur? Is that the kind of thing a person can even do, just go to some medical technology center and say, "Mind scanning this for me and sending me a bill?"

If I were even able to get a digital model of it, where would I get it printed? Some plastic printing, or that thing that wicks liquid metal into a bronze powder base?

What would you suggest for all this, my little project that will never get done?
posted by komara to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You want an MRI. The moderately tricky (but totally doable) part will be going from the series of cross-sectional raster images it will produce to a 3D model, which can be rendered to g-code and printed.

I've got an MRI of my head, and have thought about having little busts made.
posted by phrontist at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2011

Response by poster: But can a healthy arguably normal person just schedule an MRI for aesthetic (eccentric?) reasons?
posted by komara at 12:02 PM on March 1, 2011

Which is not to say other imaging technologies (e.g. CT) wouldn't work, but MRI is typically higher-res (as I understand it) and, importantly for a non-medical scan, non-irradiative.

Can a healthy person get one? Sure, people do it for specious hypochondriacal reasons all the time. It'll cost you though.
posted by phrontist at 12:04 PM on March 1, 2011

There are company that do boutique MRI scan (for virtual colonoscopy); they run about $450. Extracting the femur 3D image from the MRI may require special software (I don't know what format they will give you). For your purpose, isn't it easier just to find any human femur and scale it up to your size? Buy a virtual human skeleton, scale to your size, and try to print it using 3D printer. I'm not sure that you can print in one shot, but you may be able to print in sections and glue them together.

Relevant websites:
posted by curiousZ at 12:31 PM on March 1, 2011

The other option is to buy a plastic bone in a kit like this or this. Or find something at this awesome store.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:00 PM on March 1, 2011

MRI is not ideal for a bony structure. CT is usually less noisy, and it is ideal for imaging bone. However, CT does deliver ionizing radiation, which is not particularly good for you. If you want to get a 3D scan for a non-medical reason, MRI is the way to go.

However, even after getting the scan, you'll have to have someone extract the bone from the image. This takes some expertise and specialized software.
posted by demiurge at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2011

I don't know the exact details, but there are tables and equations that are compiled in anthropology or physiology textbooks about this kind of thing which should allow you to convert, say, height, arm span, and race into femur length with a high degree of accuracy. From there you can look into ordering models/props of that size.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:05 AM on March 2, 2011

Cory Doctorow (I know, I know) just did this using MRIs (he chose to down-scale before printing, however)
posted by misterbrandt at 8:10 AM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: Motherf----- ARGH. Really? Of all people?

Shit. Forget I even asked. Now every steampunk weirdo is going to be carrying around a femur. Great.
posted by komara at 10:04 AM on March 15, 2011

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