How to Make a 3D Model of the Ear

Written by tristram black
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How to Make a 3D Model of the Ear
Your mould should capture all the outer features of the human ear. (ear image by Connfetti from Fotolia.com)

A 3D model of an ear can be used for prosthetics, masks, art pieces and sculptures. There are many ways to do this using computer-aided design, computer generated imagery and technology by Makerbot called the Thing-O-Matic that prints three dimensional objects made of plastic. With the right materials you won't need any fancy machines or a computer to make a 3D model of an ear, just careful hands.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Safety goggles
  • Shower or bald cap
  • Dental box wax
  • Alginate
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Dental alginate syringe kit
  • Ear plug
  • Light grit sandpaper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Position yourself to the subject in a way that you can comfortably stand in the same place for 15 minutes or more.

    How to Make a 3D Model of the Ear
    Generic industrial ear plugs may be used to protect the ear canal. (ear plugs image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Tilt the subject's head so that the ear to be casted is prominent. Use the dental box wax to cordon off the area. Make sure the subject is relaxed and comfortable and gently place an ear plug in the ear canal of the ear to be cast.

  3. 3

    Place the alginate inside a syringe, following the proper instructions.

  4. 4

    Place the syringe at the bottom of the ear just outside the entrance of the ear canal. Squirt the alginate onto the ear and then outward all around the ear to get coverage of all its features. Refer to supplier instructions for drying time of the alginate.

  5. 5

    Peel away the alginate carefully after it has dried. This is called a negative mould.

  6. 6

    Secure the mould on a surface that will not cause the shape to change. This can be a towel shaped like a birds nest or something similar. Pour the plaster into the mould. Check the supplier directions for drying time.

  7. 7

    Peel away the alginate carefully from the plaster. Examine the ear model for imperfections. Use light grit sandpaper to smooth away any imperfections.

Tips and warnings

  • Cover the subject's hair with a bald cap to keep the area uncluttered. The ear canal and outer area must be clean of wax and dirt. At every step ensure that the subject is not in distress or experiencing pain or discomfort.
  • Placing towels around the neck of the subject and putting down a dust sheet will help in the clean up process. Have a garbage bag close by for refuse.
  • Before pouring plaster into the mould, paint some on to create a smooth surface without any trapped air. The plaster must be thick so that the ear does not crumple because the plaster mould is too fragile.
  • When putting in the ear plugs do not place them too deep inside the ear canal. In some cases there are plugs for these specific purposes that have strings attached to pull them back out. Consult an ear doctor who makes moulds of the ear canal for hearing aids. When adding alginate do not push the syringe inside the ear.

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