Invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977, plastination is a process used to preserve real, human bodies in six standard steps that take more than a year to complete. The end result can be safely touched without gloves, has no cadaver or formaldehyde smell, and will never decay or decompose.
The Six Steps of Plastination
Step 1: Fixation (Embalming)
During fixation, formaldehyde or other preservation solutions are coursed through the arteries, killing bacteria and preventing tissue decomposition.
3 – 4 Hour Prep, 1 Year Process
Step 2: Dissection
All skin and fatty and connective tissue is removed in order to strategically prepare the anatomical structures and elements for the next step, dehydration.
500 – 1,000 Hours of Labor
Step 3: Dehydration (Fluid Removal)
At this stage, plastination departs from traditional preservation techniques. Water and soluble fats are dissolved from the body and replaced by acetone.
Step 4: Forced Impregnation
Submerged in liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin, the specimen is put into a vacuum, causing the acetone to vaporize, leaving the cells to draw in the liquid plastic.
Step 5: Positioning
Still flexible, the body is strategically aligned and fixed with wires, needles, clamps and foam blocks – a process that requires expert anatomical knowledge and strong aesthetics.
Step 6: Curing (Hardening)
Gas, light or heat is introduced to protect against decomposition and decay. The result yields durable plastinates that retain most of their original properties, including precise weight.