Jan 30, 2015 | By Simon

As 3D scanning, 3D modeling and of course, 3D printing become more affordable and technically-easier to use, their uses for bringing previously two-dimensional images into the real world as physical objects has been growing at an exponential rate.  Recent software such as Smoothie-3D has made this possible as well as 3D printing services that can turn a child’s artwork into a 3D print with just a few simple steps.

Among other applications for 3D printing in bringing two-dimensional images to life, Estonia-based Wolfprint 3D has started bringing full-color 3D printed models of fetuses to life for expecting parents that want to hold or monitor the growth of their yet-to-be born child.  

Although this isn’t the first time that 3D printing has been used to create physical models based on scans of fetuses, Wolfprint 3D aims to offer the highest-quality results and in full-color.  

“Parents can see and get to know their child already in an early stage – weeks before the actual birth,” says Wolfprint 3D on their website.  “During a long time already, modern technologies enable us to see the first ultrasound images of the baby not only in 2D but also in holistic 3D.”

To use the service, which is available for both doctors and future parents worldwide, an expectant family or their doctor is able to simply upload their ultrasound scans to Wolfprint 3D where it is processed and 3D printed before a plaster cast is created.  

Although the final physical figurine only offers a partial half view due to the initial partial view from the ultrasound, the results are still very detailed and as close to reality as possible.  Expecting parents even have the option to print smaller models to share with their friends and family or print a full 1:1 scale model of the fetus wherever it may be in its current stage of development.  Currently, Wolfprint 3D offers the service in materials including plastic, plaster, metal and wax.  

“Usually pregnant women have to go [to see the doctor] … [the doctor] measures them [and] it makes the pregnant women anxious more than happy,” said Wolfprint 3D CEO Timmu Toke.   “What we’re trying to do, we’re trying to create a very positive emotion for them, as a memory of this magical time.”

The 3D printing service, which charges between 200 and 300 euros to produce the model, is currently working to establish partnerships with doctors and pregnancy clinics to offer the service alongside ultrasounds.  Thankfully, with the pre-existing success of 3D printing in the medical industry, the service has already been welcomed by doctors who believe that the creation of the 3D printed baby can strengthen the bond between expecting parents before their child is born. Additionally, the printed models can be used by medical professionals to inform parents of possible birth defects as well as use them for educational purposes within the industry.   

“It is possible to see face malformations, such as a cleft lip. It would be good to show colleagues that it is this kind of a defect or for surgeons when the child goes into surgery, the surgeon can look at the sculpture and see exactly what kind of a defect it is,” said Marek Sois, a director of an Estonian ultrasound clinic.   

As for how expectant parents feel about the service, some say that it has helped bring positive emotions during the oftentimes stressful period of pregnancy.  

“I didn’t want to remember my pregnancy as just doctors’ visits and tests and weighing and measuring,” said Maarja, an expecting mother.  “I wanted to turn it into something emotional to be remembered by my family and me. And all the 3D pictures and the 3D sculpture… it made me feel like the baby was already with my family and me. I’ll just remember it as a very positive emotion.”

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Abélia wrote at 7/29/2016 12:01:08 AM:

The technology today is constantly blowing me away. It's incredible that ultrasounds can now come to life through a 3D printing service. It's good to know that 3D printing is now more affordable and accurate than ever. I'm 10 week pregnant so I will definitely look for this option when getting my ultrasounds. Thank you for sharing this great news!

zach wrote at 1/14/2016 9:30:29 PM:

I didn't know that you could put color into the printers and make the ultrasound a 3D print and in color. I wonder if this will completely replace the old ultrasounds. I would like to see what they can do.

taylor grey wrote at 12/3/2015 3:52:17 PM:

That is so cool that we can literally 3D print anything we want. Ultrasounds are the most exciting part about having a baby and the fact that you can see the shape makes it even more exciting. My wife just got pregnant again with our second baby and this time we really want to try out the 3D printing. Do all OBGYN offer this service or do we have to go somewhere to get it done? http://www.hudsonvalleyimagingradiology.com/CT_Scans_Magnetic_Resonance_Imaging_New_Windsor_NY.html

Carey C wrote at 11/10/2015 8:02:39 PM:

Wow, you can really 3D print anything now. With the way the technology is evolving, it's getting easier to obtain 3D printed memories.

Liz Armeson wrote at 10/16/2015 12:22:13 AM:

Wow, that is really cool! I know a lot of people like to keep framed copies of their ultrasound images, but they look sort of weird and it can be hard to really see what's being shown. This would make a great keepsake to remember forever. I love this idea!

Jake White wrote at 10/13/2015 6:36:15 PM:

Wow this is a very interesting idea. I didn't even realize that there was a way to have a 3D scanning of the baby, let alone a 3D printing of one. Are most clinics doing 3D graphics nowadays with babies, or is the traditional black and white scan still being widely used? I'll have to share this my wife, as we plan ahead for the future. Thanks for sharing.

Deanna R. Jones wrote at 7/10/2015 8:43:24 PM:

It's really great that ultrasound developers have found a way to create a 3D figurine of my baby's ultrasound. I can't believe how detailed they can create these figurines from a partial view of an ultrasound image. That would be a really great keepsake that I can show my friends and family, so I hope that I can find a company that offer 3D ultrasound figurines soon before my baby is born. http://www.tinyhearts3d.com/packages/

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