January 21, 2014
3D Printout Of Your Unborn Baby, Anyone?
A start-up company called 3-D Babies is offering parents-to-be the opportunity to use 3D printing technology to create a life-size model of their unborn child, using dimensions gained from ultrasound. 3D printing has baffled me since it entered the scene in the last few years. But the technology behind it aside, I thought it was undoubtedly a cool and useful idea. This, though, I’m not sure about.
3-D Babies claim that there are several reasons why we might wish to take advantage of their product. One is that you get to ‘meet’ your baby before it is actually born, taking away the unbearable anticipation of the actual birth. They invite us to “Imagine holding your baby before he or she is born.” This seems a little bit like naughtily opening presents before Christmas, and I am also concerned that I have described 3-D Babies’ creations as a ‘product,’ yet it is also somehow meant to be your actual baby for you to ‘hold.’
3-D Babies also say that their models could become a family heirloom. This could be a good test of just how freaky future generations will become, or of how weird we once were. If great grandchildren recoil in horror, we will know that this idea was a bit like how hanging animal heads on our walls used to seem normal, but if they scoff because they now print out live 3-D babies we will know that this idea was perfectly sound, just a bit unadvanced.
3-D Babies is not just for parents to be. The company also proudly offers us the chance to have models of celebrity babies, the Daily Mail says, but presently only North West, daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, is available. Whoever’s motionless baby we might wish to cradle in our arms, the privilege will cost us. A life-size model is $600. Half-size is $400 and a ‘mini-baby’ $200.
I heard some other freaky fetus facts recently. One was about the entertainment incubators of Coney Island in the early 20th century. Among the rides, sword-swallowers and various other freak shows at the amusement park, the babies fought for life (babies, rather than fetuses being the correct description, even if in reality they were somewhere in-between). At that time hospitals could rarely afford incubators, but people would pay to see the process in action for purely entertainment value, and that funded an incubation unit at the amusement park. Odd though it seems, people’s curiosity did provide the facilities the babies needed, and let’s face it the whole concept isn’t that different to the supposedly medically educational TV documentaries we watch today, which in reality are often close in appeal to the dark fascination of freak shows.
The other odd thing I heard about fetuses was that they are covered in fluffy hair in the womb, called lanugo (from the Latin for down/wooliness), which they eat and excrete, making hair both their first meal, and the content of their first poop after birth. I bet they don’t tell you that down at 3-D Babies.
Image Credit: 3-D Babies