3D-Printed baby skeletons could help surgeons-in-training

Creating realistic mannequins for medical training is difficult, especially when we are talking about tiny babies. A PhD candidate at the department of Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology, has created a prototype infant mannequin with realistic bones and organs – including a 3D printed heart with functioning valves and lungs that can inflate and deflate to mimic real ones. “Without 3D printing, this work would have been impossible” the PHD candidate says.

The mannequin has two key components – a rib cage with a spine that houses the internal organs. To find the right material to model a baby’s internal structures, the researcher tested 15 different structures to find out their properties under stress.

He worked with 3D printing company 3D Hubs to make the internal organs using thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and rubber. He used PolyJet 3D printing to create moulds because they can be rapidly changed if needed and can successfully print the small details on the organs.

The PHD candidate hopes that his technology will help training the next generation of medical professionals to become even better surgeons and nurses.

“We could potentially create realistic patient models of other body parts to strengthen medical training for emergency procedures and pregnancies.”

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Source: Eindhoven University of Technology