Mark Thielen created an infant mannequin prototype that had realistic bones and organs. The model had a 3D printed heart with functioning valves and lungs that could breath like real ones and a ribcage with a spine to hold the organs.
“Without 3D printing, this work would have been impossible,” said Thielen in a press release.
Thielen tested 15 different model skeletal structures for their ability to withstand stress. He then worked with 3D printing company 3D Hubs to make the organs out of thermoplastic elastomer and rubber.
Using PolyJet 3D printing, Thielen created molds that could be quickly changed, if needed, to successfully print the smallest details on the organs.
Material jetting helped combine the various rigid and flexible plastic materials to make realistic molds for hearts with highly detailed working valves.
After combining the ribcage and organs, Thielen pumped a fluid through the mannequin that had two cameras and sensors installed. It would give feedback on the model throughout trial procedures.
3D printing has been used frequently in the medical industry for implants and medical devices in patients, according to 3D Hubs. In the past, surgeons have had to rely on using animal models, human cadavers and mannequins for training. This often poses the risk of having a limited supply, increasing the cost to handle and store the models, a lack of pathology and inconsistencies with human anatomy.
Thielen hopes that the models and technology he used could help train the next generation of medical professionals to become better surgeons and nurses.
“I believe that developing and advancing what we started here can aid medical research in a broader scope. We could potentially create realistic patient models of other body parts to strengthen medical training for emergency procedures and pregnancies,” said Thielen in a 3D Hubs article about the case study.
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