Surgeons and technicians based at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have produced a 3D-printed skull. But this isn't just a mono-textured model. Every layer -- from the skin to the skull to the various soft tissues of the brain and even the blood vessels -- are reproduced from scans of specific human skulls.
The hardness-to-squishiness fidelity is more-or-less exact in every detail. Technicians can even inject a jelly-like tumor and give it a realistic red color for brain surgery practice. In other words, surgeons can 3D-scan a living human brain, practice doing surgery on a near-perfect model based on that scan, and then go in and do the actual surgery.
The modeling process uses the latest in 3D printing technology. The printer is tweaked at each layer of the printing process to preserve the realistic densities and responsiveness of each of the tissues. Drilling into one of the models feels, looks, and even sounds the same as on a real skull. Check out a demo in the video below (replete with dubstep soundtrack -- obviously the only sensible music choice here.)
The brain fluids on upcoming models, including blood vessels, will be mimicked as well. The best part of this medical industry innovation? Thanks to the rapid proliferation of 3D printing technology, one skull model costs less than $600 to produce.