Research in physiology often requires the design and construction of specialized equipment. With the advent of high resolution 3D printers, prototyping and manufacturing components is becoming ever easier and cheaper. Here I will post designs for some of the equipment I have used in my research.
Using the high resolution X-ray microtomography beamline at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I have been scanning stems, leaves, and flowers in order to characterize structures in three dimensions. The high resolution (approximately one micron) and high energy of this beamline has allowed me to scan fresh flowers, which is providing a novel perspective on cellular structure and organization in petals. As part of our Evolution of Flower Form and Function (EF3) program, I am also using these 3D models to characterize biomechanical properties of flowers.
In a separate project, Matt Guilliams of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and I have begun studying the evolution of nutlets in the Boraginaceae. The nutlet of Cryptantha ambigua, below, is particularly important because it was the inspiration for the modern bicycle seat.
More such 3D models can be found at Craig Brodersen’s website.