Senior Exit Project Research Paper
Plastination is a process of preserving organic material. A specimen can be anything from a full human body to a tiny piece of an animal organ, and they are known as “plastinates'. There are typically four steps in the normal plastination process. Step one would be fixation. Step two would be dehydration. Step three is forced impregnation in vacuum. The last step is hardening. Water and lipid tissue are put in place by curable polymers. Curable polymers used by plastination include silicone, epoxy and polyester-co-polymer. Fixation frequently utilizing a formaldehyde based solution, serves two functions. Dissection of the specimen to show anatomical elements can be time consuming. Formaldehyde or other preserving solutions help prevent decomposition of the tissues. They may also infer a degree of rigidity. This can be beneficial in maintaining the shape or arrangement of a specimen. A stomach might be inflated or a leg bent at the knee for example. After any necessary dissections take place, the specimen is then placed in a bath of acetone. Under freezing conditions, the acetone draws out all the water and replaces it inside the cells. In the third step, the specimen is then placed in a bath of liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin. By creating a vacuum, the acetone is made to boil at a low temperature. As the acetone vaporizes and leaves the cells, it draws the liquid polymer in behind it, leaving a cell filled with liquid plastic. The plastic must then be cured with gas, heat, or ultraviolet light, in order to harden it. Once plastinated, the specimens and bodies are further manipulated and positioned prior to curing (hardening) of the polymer chains.
In 2007 The Bishop of Manchester launched a campaign to coincide with the opening of Body Worlds in that city, accusing the exhibitors of being "body snatchers" and "robbing the NHS", arguing that donation of bodies for plastination...
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