Manufacturing News

US surgeons prepping for operations using 3D printing

Doctors at the Washington’s Children’s National Medical Centre are 3D printing models of patients’ hearts to prepare surgeons for operations.

Model hearts are being printed out of hard and soft plastics to create replica organs that take into account patients’ anatomical peculiarities.

Dr Axel Krieger, a biomedical robotics specialiast at the hospital, told Fox Business that this enabled an “exact replica” of organs to be created, based on imagery that was then processed with modelling software and printed.

“Really the accuracy is sub-millimetre,” he told Fox Business, explaining that the models were built up in layers the thickness of a human hair.

Cardiologist at the hospital Laura Olivieri said the models represented hearts in a way that gave much more information than an image could.

"Because you've got a three-dimensional problem," she told the Washington Post.

"What we're all trying to do is reconstruct how far away X and Y are. But now you can just take [the model], and hold it, and look at it, and say, 'Oh, they're that far away'. "

By using a combination of hard and soft plastics, a model heart could be created that to emulate the feel of an actual heart.

"We found the perfect combination of materials that actually allows you to place a suture through it or stick a needle through it," Krieger told the Post.

"It feels similar to tissue. You can make a valve soft but the surrounding tissue hard, and then the bone really hard. So you can have different levels of the mechanical properties."

 

Image: proto3000-com

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