Medical researchers adopt 3D rapid prototyping technology

Digital healthcare researchers have linked up with specialists in 3D printing to use rapid prototyping technology to produce highly accurate anatomical models for use in medicine.

The partnership, between medical and engineering researchers from the University of Warwick's Institute of Digital Healthcare and rapid prototyping technology specialists Industrial Plastic Fabrications, will use an Objet Connex500 3D printer.

Warwick's Dr Greg Gibbons said that the advantage of this machine is that, in a single build process, it can print parts and assemblies made of several materials with differing mechanical and physical properties.

"The partnership will have one of the few machines capable of producing this advanced form of rapid prototyping," he added. "This is a unique combination in Europe which will certainly produce significant practical advances in this area of health care technology."

He said it will allow medical researchers and consultants to generate anatomical models that go far beyond being a simple single rigid block of plastic. For example, in a single pass it could create a 3D replica of a body part, displaying elements such as skin, blood vessels and muscles in a range of different colours and textures.

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