A PhD student from Eindhoven’s University of Technology in the Netherlands has created an extremely lifelike baby mannequin using 3D printing. The mannequin, which includes a 3D printed skeleton, a heart with functioning valves, and lungs that can inflate and deflate, is meant to be used by doctors in training so that they will be better equipped to operate on young children.
Mark Thielen, the PhD candidate behind the innovative project, is hoping his lifelike infant models will help doctors get a more hands-on and accurate training when it comes to treating small babies. According to the researcher, making and providing lifelike replicas for infant anatomies has until now been incredibly difficult, due to the small and intricate nature of their organs. 3D printing, he says, can offer a solution.
Thielen made the internal organ models using thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) rubber. The organs were made with the help of a PolyJet 3D printing process that made the molds in which the TPE organs were cast. To make the mannequin even more realistic, Thielen has included sensors that are capable of providing feedback for such measurements as pressure, stress, and impact during training procedures. This feedback is given when a fluid (mimicking blood) is run through the internal model. The liquid, along with the cameras and sensors built into the organs, provides vital feedback to the trainee, such as when pressure might be too high or too low etc.