4. 3D printed babies could help train surgeons
An Eindhoven University of Technology PhD candidate is using 3D printing to create realistic models of baby skeletons and other organs to help train surgeons.
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 breathe like real ones and a ribcage with a spine to hold the organs.
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.