Queensland State Library to 3D print replica of rare braille globe

Oct 11, 2017 | By Julia

It’s been over 60 years since Richard Frank Tunley created his original braille globe in Queensland, Australia. Known as “the fairy godfather of blind children,” Tunley dedicated his life to improving the lives of visually impaired children and adults by producing braille globes, maps, models, doll houses and games. Among those creations, Tunley’s original braille globe stands out as an important learning tool, and an invaluable heritage item in Australian history. In recognition of Tunley’s work, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and the Queensland Library Foundation have come together to recreate the heritage globe ‒ via 3D printing ‒ for a younger generation to enjoy.

SLQ technicians will replicate the rare globe, which Tunley created by installing metal plates on a wooden sphere, thanks to recent technological advancements and a $10,000 state funding package. The individual landmasses were originally shown by raised shapes and labels inscribed in braille, a unique “Tunley touch” that SLQ staff plan to recreate through photogrammetry.

High-fidelity photographs will be taken from all angles, and then virtually pieced together using 3D modelling software to make an exact digital rendering. “That then gets made into plans that are printed out on a 3D printer,” SLQ content manager director Margaret Warren said. “[The globe] won’t be the same as the original because it will be in a 3D resin or plastic.”

Still, the 3D printed replica will allow the new globe to be touched, handled, and explored just as the original was intended, allowing Tunley’s vision to come to life once again. Accompanying digital plans and learning notes will be shared internationally as well.

The fragile 1950s version, on the other hand, will be rescued from storage, treated by SLQ preservation staff, and placed on display as part of a State Library of Queensland exhibition starting in December.

Richard Frank Tunley

SLQ State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald noted that the original Tunley globe remains a marvel of Queensland ingenuity, enterprise and skill. “The Tunley globe is a truly remarkable creation and a unique, perhaps unknown, Queensland story,” McDonald said.

The $10,000 funding package was recently awarded to the project at the SLQ’s annual Crowd Giving event. There, a room full of heritage lovers and philanthropists debated and discussed three new SLQ projects before voting that the Tunley globe’s restoration and replication was most worthy of their collective financing.

“SLQ is immensely grateful to the donors who have put their money behind making this fascinating piece of Queensland history discoverable and accessible for a new generation of Queenslanders,” McDonald said.

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3D printing helps to perform rare and life-changing facial transplant for Wyoming's Andy Sandness

3D printing helps to perform rare and life-changing facial transplant for Wyoming’s Andy Sandness

3D printed models and surgical guides made by South Carolina’s 3D Systems have helped to give 32-year-old Andy Sandness a successful face transplant.

Andy Sandness before and after the facial transplantation. Photos via the Mayo Clinic

Andy Sandness before and after the facial transplantation. Photos via the Mayo Clinic

Speaking to reporters at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic before the operation Sandness, who attempted suicide in 2006, says, “Right now, I’m calm and collected. But 24 hours ago when I got the phonecall I was bouncing of the walls.”

56 hour facial transplantation surgery

Face transplants are incredibly rare in medicine due to the complexity of facial nerve structure, and the availability of donors. In Sandness’ case it is perhaps even more complex, as the transplant required full reconstruction of almost all the tissue below his eyes.

3D render highlighting all the parts that required reconstruction. Image via The Mayo Clinic

3D render highlighting all the parts that required reconstruction. Image via The Mayo Clinic

Commenting on the complexity of the procedure Dr. Samir Mardini, Surgical Director of the Mayo Clinic, says,

A face transplantation is a combination of so many other procedures that we do. Including eyelid surgery, jaw surgery, facial nerve surgery…

In total, the procedure required the combined effort of 9 surgeons and 40 operation staff: it took 56 hours to complete.

3D Systems surgical planning

Thousands of steps were required to accurately map the facial nerves on both the donor and the patient to preserve the tissue, and ensure that Sandness’ would be able to move his face in a naturalistic manner after the operation.

Dr. Samir Mardini with 3D printed facial models by 3D Systems. Screenshot via Mayo Clinic on YouTube

Dr. Samir Mardini with 3D printed facial models by 3D Systems. Screenshot via Mayo Clinic on YouTube

Practice using 3D printed models was crucial to the process, as Dr. Mardini says,

Using this technology of 3D modeling, printing, and virtual surgical planning is extremely beneficial. They would have cutting guides for us, that we would clip on the bones, that would give us the exact location of the cut, the exact angle of the cut, so when we took to donor’s face and put it on the recipient it would fit perfectly.

After 3 weeks of healing, Sandness was given a first glimpse of his face in a mirror and noted to a tearful Dr. Mardini that it far exceeded his expectations.

In January 2017, a second procedure was performed to refine the features and promote the development of nerve cells in the face. Sandness has since made a full recovery and remarks,

I just feel like a normal person. Walking around outside, going to shopping malls, nobody asks any questions. Nobody stares. I feel like another face in the crowd.

The 3D medical expert

3D Systems’ 3D printers and expertise were also called upon for the landmark separation surgery of conjoined twins Jadon and Anias McDonald. The U.S. company has become an authority on 3D printing for medical procedures, and in January 2017 acquired material company Vertex-Global that will bring their high-speed Figure 4 platform into the dental market.

3D Systems Figure 4 prints. Photo by Michael Petch

3D Systems Figure 4 prints. Photo by Michael Petch

For more of the latest news in 3D printing for the medical industry, sign up to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter here. You can also follow us on Twitter @3Dprintindustry, or like us on Facebook.

Featured image shows 32 year old Andrew Sandness from Wyoming after facial reconstruction surgery. Quotes and images featured in this article are taken from the Mayo Clinic’s video reporting the story on YouTube here.



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Rare University of Canterbury artefacts recreated using 3D printing

University of Canterbury researchers have started printing exact 3D replicas of rare artefacts stored in their collection to allow classics students to handle the material during lessons.

The 3D printing technology takes antiquities stored in the university’s Logie Collection, which includes Babylonian cuneiform tablets, Roman cups and vases and other treasures, and recreates them in plastic.

Collection co-curator Terri Elder says the work allows their students to take the objects out of the glass and use them in the same way the Romans did hundreds of years ago.

“They just light up when they are getting to handle the objects, even if they are replicas and not the originals,” she says.

“Students that have interacted with the real objects, and the replica objects, tend to recall the information better and they tend to recall it for longer as well.”

It also means universities and museums can take the 3D scans and upload the material online to share with overseas institutions, or simply that everyday users can them print off at home.

“It would open up the possibility for us to share objects with collections overseas, partially where the cost of freighting the original object would have been too much for us to bear,” Ms Elder says.

The printing is being carried out by senior mechanical engineering lecturer Don Clucas. They have already preserved a cuneiform tablet carrying writing, which is likely to deteriorate over time.

“It’s effectively 2D printing and we’re stacking it up. You’re just printing off layer on top of layer on top of layer and eventually you build up a component,” he says.

University of Canterbury classics student Kate Tinkler says it’s “a really good idea”.

“It’s so different to looking at something through the glass. You can feel the size and the weight of it and all those tiny details,” she says.

“There’s never anything you can hold without gloves because half of the stuff is so fragile, you don’t want the oil from your fingertips eroding into the paintwork.”

The hope is to eventually start handing out souvenirs to visiting school groups to allow them to have their own breakable version at home.


3D-Printing Helps Surgeons Correct Toddler's Rare Facial Deformity

Violet is one of the happiest babies around, despite her being born with a rare deformity.

Tessier is a facial cleft that leaves the eyes far apart on the face. Violet had no cartilage on her nose, and a large growth over her left eye.

With the help of 3D printing, surgeons made that beautiful smile possible for Violet.

According to The New York Times, the Pietrok family traveled from Oregon to Boston to be greeted by seven surgeons and a team of anesthesiologists, nurses and caregivers. The team worked together for nine hours in the surgery room on little Violet’s smile.

“She’s so happy … all the time,” Violet’s mom told ABC News.

A facebook page has been made to keep friends and family updated on Violet’s Journey from milestones at home to her surgery and medical accomplishments. You can view that Facebook page here.