Aug 4, 2016 | By Tess

Photo: ABC Gippsland: Laura Poole

One of the beauties of 3D printing technology is that its applications can be developed simultaneously by a number of parties around the globe. For instance, while yesterday we wrote about how a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in New York used 3D printing technologies to create patient-specific 3D printed anatomical models for doctor training, today we have a story about a medical team from an Australian university who have used the technology for a similar purpose but in a completely different way.

For the past two years, Paul McMenamin, the director of the Melbourne-based Monash University Centre for Human Anatomy Education, has been developing a kit of 3D printed life-like anatomical models to help train medical students. What sets the 3D printed models apart from other existing plastic training models is that they are based on real life specimens. That is, they were based on 3D scans of medical cadavers, which were then segmented into 57 pieces and 3D printed using state-of-the-art machines.

The project was undertaken by McMenamin and his team to offer a suitable medical training solution for med students in more rural areas. Understandably, not all medical training facilities have the resources or even the necessary licensing to store and use cadavers. Even for well funded medical universities, the process of storing dead bodies is very expensive and rigorously monitored. The 3D printed replica kits, which can be used and reused, might just be the next best thing.

Photo: ABC Gippsland: Laura Poole

As McMenamin explains to ABC, “A lot of people think it’s actually difficult to get human cadavers. It’s really not. The public is very kind in the donation of bodies for medical research and medical teaching, so that's not the problem.The problem is the cost, and the technology and facilities you need to receive a dead body, embalm it, store it and have it ready for dissection, the facilities you require and the licensing from the government. Not every medical school or hospital wants to go through that, or can afford to. This is where we are hoping these 3D replicas will be most useful.”

The 3D printed anatomical kit was presented yesterday to students from Monash Rural Health in Churchill where about 90 first year students will now have access to the plastic models. Previously, students had to travel to the University’s Clayton campus every couple weeks to have access to medical training specimens and facilities, now they will be able to study human anatomy in close detail locally.

In fact, the 3D printed medical models might even have a slight edge over real cadavers. In a study conducted by McMenamin and his team, they found that many students were actually more hands on and comfortable with the 3D printed plastic models in comparison to the cadavers. “They don’t hesitate [with the replicas], they just pick it up. The barrier isn’t there. Students just pick it up, and wander over and talk to their friends holding a hand or a pelvis,” explained McMenamin.

The kits, which cost $250,000, do take quite a long time to print, as even a hand can take up to 4 hours to be made. Other larger components can take up to a week to print. Considering the quality of the prints and how real they do actually look though, the time might be worth it. Additionally, the 3D printed replica kits are now commercially available and have garnered interest from schools and facilities around the world.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


johnnyboy wrote at 8/17/2016 6:44:18 PM:

How is $250k for a kit "accessible"?

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive