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3D printed, fully functional artificial heart

25 April 2016

3D printing technology has resulted in a significant reduction of research costs and has enabled Polish scientists to create a fully functional artificial heart.

Medicine is an important field that has a lot to gain with 3D printing technology. Extraordinary precision and the technology's no-less important cost effectiveness allow for the creation of incredibly accurate models which can be used for research or for the enhancement of medical devices.

Researchers from the Cybernetics Department of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw are working together with prof. Pustelny, who first conducted the research, and his team from the Optoelectronics Department of the Silesian University of Technology. Together, they are developing innovative methods of analysis and measurement which rely on artificial neural networks and the use of augmented realities in sensory technology.

Tests are conducted on cardiac chamber models created using 3D printing technology and Zortrax's M200 3D printers. Several models of artificial hearts have been printed so far. Each model consists of a hematic chamber, a membrane and a pneumatic chamber. Both the hematic and pneumatic chambers have been created solely using 3D printing technology. The membrane is obtained by moulding silicone or rubber in previously prepared, 3D printed forms.

Thanks to a signature lab-based method of supplying power to the artificial heart's chambers, it is possible to further improve the analysis and measurement techniques so that one day they may be used in practice.

3D printing technology has played an important role in this entire project. The cost of buying commercially available artificial cardiac chambers is so high that it would financially limit the research capabilities of academic institutions. 3D printing technology and Zortrax's M200 3D printers allow such institutions to create similar, high-quality models of their own.

The currently developed cardiac models are used primarily to verify scientific hypotheses and in experimental research based on evaluating the effectiveness of certain measurement techniques. Scientists hope that these experiments will result in the increased safety of artificial hearts in the future.


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