Note: Video after the jump gets pretty graphic at the end. Watch right in the middle of dinner if possible.
This is the 3-D printed thermoplastic skull recently transplanted on a 22-year old woman's head who has a condition that prevents her regular skull from ever stop growing thicker. So they cut the top off of that one and replaced it with this bad boy. *knocking on own head* Hello? Is anybody home? *throwing voice* Go away! Haha, my brain is hiding.
The skull, made by an Australian firm, is actually fairly transparent. Lots of plastics can be transparent -- acrylics, polycarbonates, etc. -- but the stringent medical requirements, and also print requirements, place limits on the possible. While the transparency may be incidental, the picture above shows the clear advantage of such transparency: one can see the underlying brain and vasculature. Not only is this a nice feedback to see how things are going macroscopically, it also entices with potential to optically image activity in the brain like never before.
A see-through skull! That's pretty neat. And it would be even neater if we also had see-through skin. We don't though, no matter how often you soak your arms in gasoline. Trust me on that. But do NOT light a cigarette around me, because I will go up in flames like a sawdust factory.
Keep going for a shot of the skull after transplant and a video of the process.
Thanks to Mycropht, who offered to cut off the top of my skull and replace it with Play-Doh. Deal!