Jul 19, 2017 | By David

Having a baby is one of the most profoundly emotional experiences that it’s possible to have, and new mothers and fathers have for the longest time wanted to keep a record of their spawn’s development in its earliest years. As well as the endless albums of baby photos and the tiny clay handprints, technological developments in recent decades have even made it possible to see and take pictures of a child before it is born. 3D printing technology is now taking this one step further, as a Canadian software company is offering to 3D print these ultrasound scans to give parents a physical model of their unborn child.

Tomovision provides a number of innovative, powerful yet easy-to-use software solutions for the medical market, mostly relating to 3D imaging processes. Derived from the company’s sliceOmatic 3D printing software, the unfortunately-named Baby Slice O stands to be one of its most popular products yet, despite sounding like an obscure Japanese punk band. It is optimized for the conversion of 3D ultrasound scans of a baby in utero into STL files, which can then be easily sent to a 3D printer.  A company called Sirbonu will now be distributing Tomovision’s pioneering and not entirely unproblematic software solution in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

There are controversies surrounding the excessive imaging of a fetus before it is fully developed, with many critics claiming that the potentially harmful effects of the process are being ignored just to placate overly excited and curious parents. While the standard 2D ultrasound scans do have some definite advantages for doctors in terms of checking up on the development and well-being of a child and its pregnant mother, other more advanced scanning technologies like high-definition 3D video arguably are used just to entertain expectant parents. With this latest 3D printed fetus technology, the controversy potentially could get worse.

Sirbonu addressed these concerns in a press release, claiming it '‘supports and respects all views in society on the 3D emotional ultrasound sessions and the 3D baby statues. Additionally, Sirbonu advocates prudence in the usage of emotional ultrasound for the entertainment of the parents. All sessions should be done by educated specialists. The baby should always come before the needs of the parents.'’

While it may not be strictly necessary from a medical standpoint, there is an undeniable emotional connection created for parents when they see the fetus in the womb, and the more vivid and tangible the representation of their pre-natal child, the stronger this connection will be. Being able to physically hold a solid 3D replica of this image could arguably increase this bond further, and it is definitely an opportunity that expectant mothers and fathers would never otherwise be given. One particularly beneficial aspect of these 3D printed fetus replicas would be their enabling blind or partially sighted parents to share some of the same experiences that other parents have before their baby is born. The 3D printed baby sculpture could also be shared with friends and family members who are unable to attend ultrasound sessions.

The BabySlice O software is available to any interested clinics or medical professionals globally, and there are regular updates from Tomovision.  The software was written in the CUDA programming language, and it can work directly with almost all of the 3D ultrasound data formats in either Cartesian, Cylindrical or Spherical systems. It has powerful editing and cleanup tools to create the best possible 3D STL model from the ultrasound imaging data, which interested mothers and fathers can look at and then decide whether they would like to take home a physical model. 3D printed sculptures of an unborn child are available for parents for as little as 25 euros.



Posted in 3D Software



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