Mar 6, 2017 | By Tess

A PhD student from Eindhoven's University of Technology in the Netherlands has created an extremely lifelike baby mannequin using 3D printing. The mannequin, which includes a 3D printed skeleton, a heart with functioning valves, and lungs that can inflate and deflate, is meant to be used by doctors in training so that they will be better equipped to operate on young children.

Mark Thielen, the PhD candidate behind the innovative project, is hoping his lifelike infant models will help doctors get a more hands-on and accurate training when it comes to treating small babies. According to the researcher, making and providing lifelike replicas for infant anatomies has until now been incredibly difficult, due to the small and intricate nature of their organs. 3D printing, he says, can offer a solution.

Thielen worked with 3D Hubs to prototype the anatomical mannequin, basing its design on an MRI scan of an actual infant. Thielen and 3D Hubs tested a number of different materials to see which would be best suited for the medical application. In the end, Thielen made the internal organ models using thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) rubber. The organs were made with the help of a PolyJet 3D printing process that made the molds in which the TPE organs were cast.

To make the mannequin even more realistic, Thielen has included sensors that are capable of providing feedback for such measurements as pressure, stress, and impact during training procedures. This feedback is given when a fluid (mimicking blood) is run through the internal model. The liquid, along with the cameras and sensors built into the organs, provides vital feedback to the trainee, such as when pressure might be too high or too low etc.

Currently, the 3D printed infant mannequins are still in their prototyping and development stage, though Thielen is hopeful that his innovative project will impact the medical community positively in the near future. He also believes that his research could go beyond helping only infants, and could be used to create realistic and interactive models for other body parts and organs to help train medical professionals.

In the medical field, 3D printing is being used more and more to create lifelike models, both to train new doctors, and to help established surgeons prepare for complex surgeries. The benefits of 3D printing anatomical models are numerous, as the technology allows for bespoke, patient-specific models to be made, often for reasonable costs and in a timely manner. As 3D printing materials continue to advance, the potential for better models is also growing, as doctors could soon be trained using extremely realistic 3D printed organs with lifelike feedback and textures.

Photos: 3D Hubs



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Dr.Thirumurugan Mahadhevan wrote at 3/15/2017 11:05:16 AM:

I was having this idea for and discussed about this with my team almost before a year. Unfortunately, I was not having a proper support to take it forward. Good to see someone working on the same platform of ideology as mine. I hope to bring more advanced things similar to this. All the best to Mr.Thielen

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