Rapid prototyping for neuroscience and neural engineering

J Neurosci Methods. 2008 Jul 30;172(2):263-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2008.03.011. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Rapid prototyping (RP) is a useful method for designing and fabricating a wide variety of devices used for neuroscience research. The present study confirms the utility of using fused deposition modeling, a specific form of RP, to produce three devices commonly used for basic science experimentation. The accuracy and precision of the RP method varies according to the type and quality of the printer as well as the thermoplastic substrate. The printer was capable of creating device channels with a minimum diameter of 0.4 or 0.6mm depending on the orientation of fabrication. RP enabled the computer-aided design and fabrication of three custom devices including a cortical recording/stroke induction platform capable of monitoring electrophysiological function during ischemic challenge. In addition to the recording platform, two perfusion chambers and a cranial window device were replicated with sub-millimeter precision. The ability to repeatedly modify the design of each device with minimal effort and low turn-around time is helpful for oft-unpredictable experimental conditions. Results obtained from validation studies using both the cortical recording platform and perfusion chamber did not vary from previous results using traditional hand-fabricated or commercially available devices. Combined with computer-aided design, rapid prototyping is an excellent alternative for developing and fabricating custom devices for neuroscience research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biomedical Engineering / instrumentation*
  • Biomedical Engineering / methods
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Computer-Aided Design / instrumentation*
  • Craniotomy / methods
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture / instrumentation
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture / methods
  • Electrodes, Implanted / trends
  • Electronics, Medical / instrumentation*
  • Electronics, Medical / methods
  • Electrophysiology / instrumentation*
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Equipment Design / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Neurophysiology / instrumentation
  • Neurophysiology / methods
  • Neurosciences / instrumentation*
  • Neurosciences / methods
  • Organ Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Organ Culture Techniques / methods
  • Polymers
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polymers