Sep 21, 2017 | By Tess

A team of students from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland has designed a low-cost 3D printed breast pump device that could ease the breastfeeding process for malnourished mothers in developing regions of the world.

The device was developed by a group of biomedical engineers who are part of a larger initiative at Trinity College Dublin called Med3DP. Founded by Dr. Michael Monaghan and Dr. Conor Buckley, Med3DP is a research center dedicated to the development of low-cost and on-demand medical devices destined for developing or disaster-struck regions.

Med3DP explains its vision on its website, saying: “We are building a digital library of low-cost medical equipment available for download for unlimited humanitarian use. Our goal is to make sustainable solutions to reduce poverty and deliver healthcare in the most challenging places to those who need it the most.”

The idea behind the breast pump project was prompted by the reality that mothers who are malnourished often face difficulties when breastfeeding their children, as they themselves are lacking many of the nutrients required for naturally producing breast milk.

This means that certain mothers—who are able to produce breast milk—are relied upon to feed multiple babies. As the researchers point out, however, this can risk the spread of orally-transmitted diseases in infants and, crucially, is a strain on the nursing mother.

By making breast pumps more accessible by 3D printing them, the team hopes that it can provide a safe solution for breastfeeding mothers to feed multiple babies.

The pump itself consists of three main parts: a 3D printed breast shield, a valve, and a foot pump. The valve and foot pump are assembled from easily obtainable and cheap items such as plastic water bottles, plastic tubing, and a 60 ml syringe.

The 3D printed breast shield—the part that fits over the mother’s breast—was carefully modeled after existing breast pump designs and has been designed for optimal comfort. The Med3DP team says it should fit most women, as it forms an airtight connection against the breast. The washable component is also fitted with a bottom nozzle that can be fitted with any standard plastic water bottle.

The foot pump, which was incorporated to offer easy and hands-free use, is also made up of 3D printed components and includes a slot where the 60 ml syringe can be placed. The foot pump is an optional feature, though without it, the team says that a second person would need to be present to operate the syringe.

The most impressive aspect of the 3D printed breast pump? It was 3D printed in under 43 hours and cost only €10.50 ($12.50) to manufacture and assemble—much cheaper than most commercial breast pumps. (A quick search on Amazon shows that most pumps start at around $30.)

Currently, the breast pump project is still in its prototyping stage, as the team hopes to cut back even more on cost and printing time, making the device even more accessible and easy to use.

Med3DP team members Elvira Ruiz Jimenez, Alice Brettle, Michael O’Connor, and Pooja Mandal

In addition to the 3D printed breast pump, members of Med3DP are developing various other medical 3D printed solutions, including a functional stethoscope, a 3D printed umbilical cord clamp, a 3D printed finger splint kit, a printed neck brace, and more.

Some of Med3DP’s innovative 3D printing projects were recently presented at Inspirefest 2017, an international festival dedicated to technology, science, design, and the arts.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


ross Wilson wrote at 9/28/2017 10:53:07 PM:

The economics of this are also way off. Walmart sell the NUK brand pump for $12.69 retail on line. Much better looking, and probably easier to use. Sorry to be negative, but better to find out early than wasted a lot of time with this.

Claire Allcutt wrote at 9/23/2017 6:17:55 PM:

This is an interesting 3D project but I would feel that it would not be helpful for mothers in the situations described, for a number of reasons. While it is in the prototype phase, would you consider getting some input from Lactation professionals?

Dr Genevieve Becker wrote at 9/23/2017 6:03:14 PM:

While is laudable to consider ways to support babies to high standards of nutrition this project (or the report of it) indicates a lack of understanding about how breastfeeding and milk expression works, hygiene, realities of a mothers live in situations of long-term malnutrition or guidelines on supporting breastfeeding in emergency situations. It would be unusual that a woman could carry a healthy baby to term but yet be so malnourished that she could not produce milk. There is little evidence that mothers milk is of such poor quality that it would not be of value to her infant. It is intriguing that living beside these severely malnourished mothers are some super-producer mothers feeding 2 & 3 babies. Where are they getting the quantities of food needed to produce milk for 3 babies? and the time to pump 2 litres of more of milk a day as well as eat, care for herself and her own family - and we protect cows from factory milking! Then this pumped milk will be fed to the vulnerable baby in a bottle and teat with all the accompanying hygiene risks of this? Meanwhile the malnourished woman does not have family spacing effect of breastfeeding so is pregnant again and more malnourished. WHO etc guidelines are to feed the malnourished mother so she can feed and care for her children. I have worked with maternal and infant nutrition for over 30 years including in developing countries and with international agencies. I suggest this project needs a bit more awareness and thought before it is marketed as an improvement to breastfeeding.

Elke Hasner RM IBCLC wrote at 9/23/2017 3:51:54 PM:

This is wrong on so many levels! Had anybody considered collaboration with lactation consultants ? WHO guidelines say to feed the malnourished mother! NOT to find a 'super producer' and subsequently bottle feed babies in unhygienic conditions.

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