On Monday at RSNA 2017, Stratasys unveiled BioMimics—fully functional, 3D printed models of the human heart and bones to improve medical device testing and education.
These models are the most realistic, functionally-accurate 3D printed replicas of complex anatomical structures available, Stratasys said, eliminating the restrictions associated with researching on animals, mannequins, or cadavers.
The Stratasys PolyJet 3D printer builds the models by layering different types of materials together to mirror the intricacies of both soft tissue and hard bones.
"For the first time in terms of replicating the human body, we can go from all of your design and development work in the digital domain and turn it into something physical," said Scott Rader, general manager of healthcare solutions at Stratasys. "This is democratization of healthcare in terms of education, training, and providing tools for medical manufacturers to be able to ensure that their devices are designed correctly."
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While the initial launch includes bones, discs, ligaments, and hearts (both adult and pediatric), in Q1 2018, the company will also release vascular system models. Feedback from customers will determine what body parts the company develops next, said Mike Gaisford, director of healthcare solutions at Stratasys.
Stratasys offers off-the-shelf models, but customers can also create custom solutions depending on need. For example, medical professionals can send in a patient scan and Stratasys can build the model to replicate that patient. Customers can also submit a model they designed in CAD to be turned into a realistic BioMimic model.
Medical device companies can standardize product testing with these 3D printed models, instead of relying only on cadavers. And medical students can practice on the models before they treat patients. "We will be able to repeatedly and predictably expose trainees to the clinical scenarios they need to treat before they start treating live patients," Gaisford said.
Rapid prototyping has already changed manufacturing, Gaisford said. Now, it is also poised to improve the medical industry.
"This is going to open up a new paradigm for how medical models are used," Gaisford said. "We're going to be able to print the pathologies that the device is expected to target, which will break down a lot of the barriers and constraints that medical device companies have in deciding when to make these investments in the clinical pre-testing environment."
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
1. At RSNA 2017, Stratasys unveiled BioMimics, fully functional, 3D printed models of the human heart and bones to improve medical device testing and education.
2. BioMimics are the most realistic, functionally-accurate 3D printed replicas of complex anatomical structures available, and eliminate the restrictions associated with researching on animals, mannequins, or cadavers.
3. BioMimics are now available for human bones and hearts, and those for the vascular system will be available in Q1 2018.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.