Jan 10, 2016 | By Benedict

Simulation technology firm CAE Healthcare has developed the Fidelis Maternal Fetal Simulator (MFS), using 3D printed parts provided by Stratasys. The simulator teaches obstetricians how to deal with dangerous birthing complications.

Although modern technology and medical expertise has made childbirth safer than ever, much can still go wrong in the delivery room. The extreme physical and mental strain put on women in labor can cause a whole host of bodily problems, which means that obstetric doctors and nurses must be prepared for every possible situation. The MFS, developed by CAE with the help of Stratasys, contributes to this vital preparation.

The partially 3D printed birthing simulator can simulate breathing, heart rate and childbirth itself, which means it can be used to replicate the exhaustive physical complications experienced by a mother and fetus during childbirth. The simulator consists of hundreds of individual components, and is equipped with an electronic monitoring system which displays physiological data regarding the fetus. The user interface even emits a realistic cry, to accurately simulate all sensory aspects of childbirth.

“The design of the human patient simulator is a complex endeavor requiring extensive validation of the components and in particular the interaction of the physical parts,” explained Giuseppe Mallaci, Senior Mechanical Designer for the MFS. “The complexity increases as we introduce moving parts and deformable components in a confined space. Small incremental changes are required to validate such a complex design. The competitive nature of our industry fuels a growing need for relatively short product development cycles–rapid prototypes are essential to the success of any product development initiative.”

To develop the complex simulator, CAE employed Stratasys to carry out a large number of 3D printing processes, including Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SL), Laser Sintering (LS), QuantumCast cast urethanes and rapid machining.

“In all cases, whether it be FDM or SL rapid prints, QuantumCast parts, molded foam parts or molded urethane parts, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was instrumental in advising on the manufacturing approach to meet our functional needs,” said Mallaci.

The internal fetus of the simulator can be viewed through a transparent 3D printed wall, made using Stereolithography with Accura 60 material. Other parts of the simulator required different 3D printing processes. The articulated arms and legs, for example, were 3D printed using Laser Sintering technology, QuantumCast cast urethanes were used as a rapid production solution, while production of other parts required Stratasys’ exclusive ID-Light 3D printing process.

This process enabled the printing of large, lightweight parts with internal lattice structures. Components 3D printed in this way can be up to 12 times lighter than their solid equivalents.

“In addition to design and fabrication validation, the rapid prototype parts were also used extensively for validation with our subject matter experts who rely on having fully functional simulators,” explained Mallaci. “These simulators must represent the manufacturing intent and consist all of the electronic components, firmware and software. It is inevitable that changes come at every validation gate. Rapid prototype parts are essential to minimize development costs.”

The MFS, which saw its first action in May, is able to replicate a number of childbirth procedures and scenarios, such as: Normal delivery, instrumental vaginal delivery, fetal tachycardia due to maternal pyrexia, breech delivery, fetal central nervous system depression by narcotics given to mother, shoulder dystocia, major post-partum hemorrhage due to uterine atony, maternal cardio-respiratory arrest, eclampsia and umbilical cord prolapsed.

The simulator, a fine example of 3D printing at its most useful, is being distributed to hospitals, universities and training facilities throughout the US and Canada.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Lucina Fan wrote at 1/15/2016 5:08:09 PM:

Well, actually "Sarah", and according to CAE Healthcare's technical specification sheets, the Lucina maternity simulator has a realistic pelvic tilt (not restricted) and has the capability to respond to a wide range of obstetric maneuvers and multiple birthing positions. Students can actually feel the simulator "bear down" as the mechanics of the fetus are such that it goes through all stages of labor. Plus, the simulator has vocalization capabilities that allow students to engage with the simulator as if it were a living person, to provide comfort and practice their bedside manner.

Sarah wrote at 1/11/2016 9:23:29 AM:

Well, the first thing the students using this model should notice is that with the woman lying on her back, her pelvis is restricted. If she were upright the tailbone would be able to move backwards as the baby descends. She would have gravity on her side as she gives in to the natural impulse to bear down. Unfortunately this piece of equipment gives students no experience at all of the emotional support and calm environment which are essential to a labouring woman.

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