X-ray vision

In my faculty appointment at the Cummings Schools of veterinary medicine at Tufts University here in Grafton MA, I have been working with the surgeon who runs the clinical skills simulation center at Grafton. We decided a cool project to work on is a series of 3D printed training models around hip-dysplasia (a fairly common problem in pure bred dogs such as german Shepards, and not super rare in human babies either). When my wife heard about the project (she is a graduate from Tufts Vet) she suggested it would be more helpful to have the x-ray showing behind the model so students, owners and community vets can learn to associate the x-ray findings with the actual models. So I got some of the x-rays for dogs with the condition, and planned an edge-lit version.

Moderate Hip Dysplasia

And at first could not get a successful engrave to happen (thanks to @Jules) we figured out that what appears black on the x-ray (i.e. the background) is of course not actually black to the GFUI (it’s very, very close but #010101 is not #000000 to software. So a quick trip to photoshop and playing with the levels slider, then inverting the image:

(the lollipop thing is a scale device so you can judge exact distances on the x-ray). I also realized that to make this thing way cooler in a lit room you need to make the background black so I cut a second piece of black acrylic to glue on the back (of course to be able to insert the whole thing in the lit base I chopped the tab at the bottom that inserts into the light). Then using Weldon for acrylic a drop in teach corner pulled in by capillary action welded the black on

Then off to the GF to engrave:

I didn’t come out as nicely as I hoped and will be working on the image to see if I can improve it, but it is a fairly cool effect (and the iPhone can’t really photograph it well). The bones appear to be floating above the image. I think I need to make the bones way higher contrast and make the soft tissues way, way less visible. Anyways, figured I’s share so folks can learn from this.


It looks cool! Thanks for explaining the process.


Turned out pretty cool! :grinning:


One thing for those of you in the medical world. If you have the CC version of Photoshop it will directly open DICOM files, which you can then save as PNG

What about doing a double cut - having the bones cut out of grey or black acrylic, and then cutting the same image in the clear acrylic that the grey bones can be inserted into. It would make for a more pronounced image, fitting like a jigsaw puzzle.

Oooo, very neat! I’d love to see the next iteration.


It is cool … always amazing me what a person comes up with for their world. Cool, I say!

Have you considered two layers of engraved acrylic? The bones on one piece of acrylic and the soft tissue on a second. With independently controlled LEDs. Or this could be an engineer trying to solve the wrong problem.