3D Printing News Briefs, May 11, 2024: 3D Printed Stent, Tower, Sculptures, & More


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We’re starting off with medical research in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, as researchers in Korea used CT images and 3D printing to fabricate an educational simulator for a mastoidectomy. Then, doctors created a 3D printed stent for a double lung transplant patient. Moving on, the world’s tallest 3D printed concrete structure, located in Qatar, has been recognized by the Guinness World Record. Finally, check out these amazing 3D printed sculptures that are a physical representation of music!

3D Printed Educational Simulator Modeled on CT Images

Fabricated mastoidectomy simulator considering mechanical properties and visually recognizing the difference between structures: (A) front view and (B) rear view.

The temporal bone, located within the base of the human skull, is very intricate, containing complex anatomical structures such as the middle ear and cranial nerves. This complexity can cause surgical challenges during mastoidectomy operations, which increases the risk to patients. Surgeons continually work on skill training to mitigate these risks, but current methods, like animal models and cadavers, run into issues with ethics and accessibility, and VR devices can be cost-prohibitive and not realistic enough. A team of researchers from the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Korea recently published a paper on their work developing an educational mastoidectomy simulator, which was modeled on CT images of a patient undergoing this operation and then 3D printed out of resin on a Formlabs Form 3.

“Infill was modeled for each anatomical part to provide a realistic drilling sensation. Bone and other anatomies appear in assorted colors to enhance the simulator’s educational utility. The mechanical properties of the simulator were evaluated by measuring the screw insertion torque for infill specimens and cadaveric temporal bones and investigating its usability with a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire completed by five otolaryngologists. The maximum insertion torque values of the sigmoid sinus, tegmen, and semicircular canal were 1.08 ± 0.62, 0.44 ± 0.42, and 1.54 ± 0.43 N mm, displaying similar-strength infill specimens of 40%, 30%, and 50%. Otolaryngologists evaluated the quality and usability at 4.25 ± 0.81 and 4.53 ± 0.62. The mastoidectomy simulator could provide realistic bone drilling feedback for educational mastoidectomy training while reinforcing skills and comprehension of anatomical structures,” the team wrote in the abstract.

Michigan Lung Transplant Patient Gets 3D Printed Stent

Wayne Morgan’s 3D printed lung airway stent. Image credit: Corewell Health

East Michigan resident Wayne Morgan was often out of breath, and coughing all the time, when his doctors diagnosed him with advanced pulmonary fibrosis more than two years ago. He was put on 24/7 oxygen and advised to visit Corewell Health for a possible double lung transplant. After three weeks of waiting in the hospital, he had a double lung transplant in March of 2022, and is forever grateful to the donor and doctors who saved his life. He’s been doing great, and felt like he had a new lease on life. But recently, a complication arose—the airway in his right lung had narrowed. His doctors decided to make a custom 3D printed silicone stent to address the issue, which is the first time one had been created at Corewell Health.

“Based on the anatomy of the airway and the exact narrowing and location, that information can be transmitted to a program that’s then able to print in 3D a custom silicone stent that’s specifically designed to fit his airway anatomy,” explained Dr. Reda Girgis, medical director of the lung transplant program at Corewell Health.

The surgery was successful, and he recently had a post-op checkup appointment, where doctors checked his lungs and he completed a six-minute walking test. At the end of the appointment, he rang a bell twice to mark two years with his new lungs.

World’s Tallest 3D Printed Concrete Tower in Qatar

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology for Qatar wanted an interesting way to highlight its pavilion at the Doha Expo 2023. So contractor KPM3, which specializes in temporary construction projects, reached out to Dutch concrete 3D printing innovators Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix and Witteveen+Bos, and the result is the world’s tallest 3D printed concrete structure. It was a tough project for many reasons, including the tight schedule leading up to the opening of the expo and having to transport all the elements from the Netherlands to Qatar by boat. But the team managed to get from initial design idea to final product and shipping within two months! The futuristic design of the tower features an interrupted circular structure and characteristic 30° inclination, and 85 unique, hollow concrete building blocks were individually printed. The 12.4 meter-tall Qatari tower is made up of ten layers, each of which has eight or nine blocks, and received the Guinness World Record for tallest freestanding 3D printed concrete structure.

“A project like this is ideally suited to be 3D printed with concrete. This has everything to do with the extremely short lead time, the number of unique shapes, and the structural properties of the material used,” explained Peter Paul Cornelissen, Business Unit Manager 3D Printing, Weber Beamix. “To guarantee the structural properties of the individual elements, Weber has developed a unique Quality Framework. This allows the agreed quality to be delivered with short lead times and large volumes, which is essential for any structural construction.”

3D Printed Frozen Music Sculptures

L-R: Third movement of the Suite Boulogne Op. 32 by Bo Linde, and Djefvulsdansen (The Devil’s Dance) by Symphonic Stomp of Sweden

A collaboration between the Swedish Gävle Symphony Orchestra, designer Julia Koerner (perhaps best-known for her work on 3D printed costume pieces for Marvel’s Black Panther), and curator and digital art expert Andreas Vierziger has resulted in the unique Frozen Music project, which transforms music into a physical representation that can be touched. The idea is to strengthen the sensory experience of music by making it more tangible and real. The process is rather complex, but essentially, three musical compositions, played by the 52-member orchestra, were fed into a computational algorithm and then 3D printed, resulting in “a physical representation of sound and a well-balanced mix of artistic vision and technology skills.”

Koerner is also the Co-Founder and Creative Director of JK3D, a next-gen brand pioneering 3D printed décor and fashion, which also worked on Frozen Music. The first sculpture, which is not pictured, is of Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11, Fifth movement, Scherzo. Allegro by Johannes Brahms. Over thick, fast-changing radial shapes, various microstructures form, not dissimilar to how lichen and moss grow on trees and rocks in nature; these microstructures show the details of the symphony. The second sculpture is of the third movement of the Suite Boulogne Op. 32 by Bo Linde, and features flowing geometries, inspired by the piece’s gentle flute and reflecting its calming sounds. The sculpture of Djefvulsdansen (Devil’s Dance) from Symphonic Stomp of Sweden features a fluid shape that changes quickly to the spirited beats of the bagpipes.

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