A blog about scientific and medical visualization and all that’s involved.

Archive for the ‘stores/products’ Category

The Naked Binder

Posted by Janet on December 13, 2009

I’ve been reorganizing my bookshelf this week when I came across The Naked Binder website. I discovered them through their sister company, Archival Products, which listed these binders as eco-friendly and acid-neutral. Not only is the production process environmentally responsible, the archival quality of these binders make them appropriate for storing your artworks as well. The most impressive part, however, is how durable they are. These binders have endured a flex test of 50,000 times with barely any visible damage and survived a dishwashing cycle.

Is the standard size too small for artworks? No worries. Check out the 11″ x 17″ architect binder.

Also check out another sister company, Corporate Image, for more professional options.

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Learning Flash and AdobeTV

Posted by Janet on March 27, 2009

This week is spring break. Since I’m not going anywhere, I decided to teach myself Flash.

I’ve been looking through video tutorials on the AdobeTV website, I found the Learn Flash Professional CS4 Series extremely helpful for getting myself familiar with the interface and its overall capabilities. In four days I’m able to understand how the program works, navigate with ease, create simple animations, and output a movie file. The videos are definitely worth watching. However, I will say that prior experiences in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and AfterEffects helped a lot.

The website also contains tutorials for other Adobe programs and videos for more advanced users. This is useful not only if you are trying to learn a new Adobe program, but also for learning new features in the latest version. I enjoyed watching demos of the different creative suite collections, especially in CS4 where Adobe have really begun to perfect the interface and create a more integrated workflow between programs. In my opinion, the interface prior to CS3 was extremely difficult. CS3 was a good improvement, but CS4 is the the one where they’ve nailed it (those who know me, this is the first time I’ve said anything positive about the interface. surprise, surprise). I’m sure it will improve by the next version, but I’m happy sticking with CS4 for a while.

Back to learning Flash–the one thing I felt was lacking on the internet was the amount of structured information about ActionScript for beginners. For someone like me with almost no programming skills, ActionScript is more difficult to pick up than the rest of Flash. I felt that the majority of the information was either too simple to be useful or too advanced for this skill level. At this point I think a book is the way to go.

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Anatomical Model Internship–Part 2

Posted by Janet on March 19, 2009

(Continued from part 1)

A while ago I encountered an episode of “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel that showed the process of making anatomical models. If you have seen that episode, that sums up how these models are made in a nutshell. The process begins with a design. A prototype is created from the design. From the prototype, a metal mold is made and this mold is then used and reused many times to produce the anatomical models. The models are then trimmed, painted, and assembled. Even though this is considered “mass production,” the entire process is time consuming and requires a lot of “hand made” procedures. This is why anatomical models can be very expensive.

When a design is completely new, the model needs to be sculpted by hand. However, sometimes the anatomical model company already owns a model that is similar to the new design. If such is the case, the original model can be scanned with a 3D scanner and edited using a computer software. The final file is sent to a rapid prototyping machine, where a prototype is created. Some companies own their own rapid prototyping machines. Those who don’t usually send their designs to rapid prototyping service bureaus. This newly created raw model is rarely perfect. To complete the process, a sculptor must smooth the piece and re-carve the fine details.

The next step is mold creation. Metal is chosen for their heat tolerance and durability. The mold design can be tricky because anatomy often have very complicated shapes. In order to avoid undercuts, the design of both the model and the mold needs to be carefully considered. Like the previous process, the mold can also be created off site by another company.

Once the mold is made, a worker fills the mold with materials and churns it so the material fills the entire mold surface. The raw model is removed while still warm and left to cool. During the cooling process, the material shrinks slightly, contributing to the difficulty of fitting multiple parts together in a precise manner. The edges of each model are trimmed, and the models line up on shelves waiting for the next step. Eventually some models are sprayed with a base paint. Sometimes the base color is the color of the material, so the layer of paint isn’t always necessary. Painters then take the models and hand paint them according to a chart to ensure accuracy in all the models. The paint used in this process forms a chemical bond with the material, preventing the paint from being rubbed off easily. Finally, assemblers drill holes and fit the different parts of a model together.

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Anatomical Model Internship–Part 1

Posted by Janet on March 13, 2009

I would really like to share some things that I’ve been doing at my internship, but since the projects are manufactured into products, I can’t actually talk about it until the products come out. Instead, I will talk a little bit about the company, the manufacturing process, and give some tips for finding internships.

Denoyer-Geppert is an anatomical model company based in Skokie. It is a manufacturer as well as a distributor, which means that the company makes its own models as well as buys models from other companies to sell. In addition to making models, Denoyer-Geppert also produces illustrations. These illustrations can be a stand alone product, but they are often part of an educational package or used to compliment a model.

Most of the time, designers or freelancers (which is technically what I am) at the company design products and produce illustrations, and the company owns all rights to the work. Yes, this means that you can’t show your own work freely on your website without the company’s permission. You even have to be careful NOT to make derivative works from something you created at a company. Occasionally, an outside scientist, educator, artist, or anyone would have an idea for a model they would like the company to manufacture. So they will call the company and negotiate a deal. If this is the case, the creator of the model is credited and/or may enjoy certain benefits when the models sell. Examples of such models include “Plane Jane,” a model showing the anatomical planes, and the “Complete Sarcomere Model,” which illustrates the sliding filament theory.

Stay tuned for part 2 about the design and manufacturing process.

plane-jane sarcomere
Above Left (Top): Plane Jane; Above Right (Bottom): Complete Sarcomere Model

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Desktop 3D Scanner

Posted by Janet on February 23, 2009

Update: Regarding my comment about the object selection option below, here is a response from Ronny I. of NextEngine.

Hi Janet,
You’ve have a very interesting background. We’re constantly thinking of ways to improve our product. I’ve added your request to add the feature to trim only what is visible.
Ronny I.


Recently I had the opportunity to try the NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner. This is a laser scanner that scans three-dimensional objects. The data is imported into its corresponding software for editing, and the final model can be brought into other programs for further refinement.

I was surprised by how easy both the scanner and the software were to use. They actually work like they were supposed to. The scanner itself was nice because it’s small enough to fit right on your desk, and connects to your PC (sorry, PC only) via USB. It comes with a rotating platform that holds your object. My favorite part is the set up. Depending on the size of your object, the platform is placed closer or further from the scanner to allow the scanner to capture the whole object. The distance is built into the scanner settings, and by simply threading the cord that connects the stand and the scanner through different openings, the stand is automatically placed at the optimal distance. There is a part that can be attached to the platform to help hold your objects in place (not shown in the picture above). If you don’t want this part to be in the way, clay also works nicely for holding the object in place.

I was quite impressed with the software too. The last time I used a (different) 3D scanner, its corresponding software was a pain to deal with, both in function and interface. The other software had a few bugs, so I often got error messages that prevented me from continuing with my tasks. It also did not perform as well as it should. For example, I would always have trouble filling “holes” in my model–filling one hole opened up another. I haven’t had any problems with this scanner’s software, ScanStudio. The interface was easy to understand and navigation was a breeze. The performance was pretty impressive even though sometimes I do have to manually align different “shells” of the model. So far I haven’t encountered any bugs yet. My only complaint is that there is no option for selecting only the front of the object, so you have to be a little creative when making a selection. (Maybe they fixed the problem now–I’m probably using an older version)

I think the best part about this scanner is the price. At $3000, it includes the scanner, the software, other accessories, and is entirely affordable by a single person. Many scanners cost A LOT more. In my opinion, it holds up to its claim that it “outperforms many $25,000+ scanners.” Don’t worry about size either, unless you are trying to scan something very big. The fact that the scanner is small does not limit it to scan small things. Medium sized objects can be scanned in sections and then stitched together in the software.

Posted in digital 2D/3D, photography/imaging, stores/products | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Build Your Own Anatomy

Posted by Janet on January 31, 2009

Next week I begin an internship at an anatomical model company, so out of pure interest I started looking up various anatomical model companies all over the US.  What I found was an anatomical model system called “Anatomy in Clay.” Rather than a full anatomy model, the “Anatomy in Clay” system offers skeleton mannequins with clay, clay tools, instruction, and learning DVDs so students can learn anatomy by building it. See for yourself at the videos below or check out

I personally wish I had something like this when I learned anatomy (I did attempt to build muscles and nerves using string and cotton balls on a 10 inch skeleton). Here is what some teachers and high school students think of the Anatomy in Clay system:

One more video showing people building muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, and “guts.”

Posted in anatomy, sculpture, stores/products, videos | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“Math is Beautiful” Klein Bottle Posters

Posted by Janet on September 18, 2008

The newest additions to my CafePress store:

large poster 23″ x 35″

small poster 16″ x 20″

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That Legendary Notebook

Posted by Janet on August 21, 2008

Yes. That one. Moleskine.

Honestly I don’t understand the hype around this notebook. After all it’s bound paper. Functionally it’s the same as any paper you write on. I personally prefer loose paper so I can rearrange the pages anyway.

I suppose Moleskine is so highly regarded among artists because what other brand of notebook devotes its pages to artists? It’s hard enough finding a normal blank page notebook, not to mention acid free pages that are ruled for musicians or have frames already drawn for storyboard.

This is probably why a blog is completely devoted to all things Moleskine. From accessories to storage to people’s stories and their sketch pages.

Posted in miscellaneous, stores/products | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Annie Modica Decoupage Designs

Posted by Janet on August 4, 2008

Annie Modica, a former art instructor, started decoupage as a hobby. A series of coincidences led her to make her first tray. She sold that tray, and thus began her new business. Modica now designs home furnishings for high end retailers and makes gross annual revenue close to seven figures.

Many of her designs are themed around natural science illustrations, and many designs are available for each type of home furnishing.

Her most popular items are still the trays:

Other items include lazy susans like this one below:

A stool:

Waste basket and tissue holder:

Finally, a planter:

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Drafting Table Update

Posted by Janet on June 28, 2008

Remember the drafting table I wrote about two weeks ago? I just went to the website again and saw an update–price: 399US dollars. I really hope that’s $3.99 and not $399 because designed or not, you’re getting cardboard. I bet in a couple years you’ll see a similar designed item at IKEA for about $3.99.

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