PlastinationPlastination is a technique used in anatomy to conserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimen that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most microscopic properties of the original sample.
The technique was invented by Gunther von Hagens when working at the anatomical institute of the University of Heidelberg in 1978. Von Hagens has patented the technique in several countries and is heavily involved in its promotion, especially with his travelling exhibition Body Worlds showing plastinated human bodies all over the world. He also founded and directs the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg.
The process of plastination proceeds as follows: the sample is soaked in a solvent such as acetone and the sample's water (under freezing conditions) and fat are slowly replaced by the solvent. Then the sample is placed in a bath of liquid plastics, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resins. When a vacuum is generated, the acetone starts to boil, and the liquid plastic takes its place. It is then cured, either with gas, light or heat.