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3D Printed Heart Model

Recreating Digital Anatomy with Validated 3D Printing Materials

When Stratasys unveiled our J750™ Digital Anatomy™ 3D Printer in early October, our goal was to fuel a new era in medical modeling – creating ultra-realistic and functional anatomical models. Extending our commitment to the medical industry, we designed the 3D printer to create models that replicate the feel, responsiveness, and biomechanics of human anatomy. These can be used in hospitals to boost surgical preparedness and medical device companies to help bring medical products to market faster. 

And it’s not just about the 3D printer. New materials and software make it all possible. GrabCAD Print Digital Anatomy software is a unique voxel-based engine that allows for pre-validated anatomical applications. It offers the most complete library of human anatomy presets, reducing the need to design internal structures. You can choose specific digital anatomies such as bones, blood vessels, and hearts, and automatically generate micro-structures including fibers and porous structures, resulting in the most accurate anatomical models. Three new PolyJet™ materials – TissueMatrix™, GelMatrix™, and BoneMatrix™ – are used by the software to effectively recreate the look and feel of cardiac, vascular and orthopedic 3D printing applications, resulting in medical models that behave much like the real thing. 

In a recent paper, “PolyJet 3D printing of tissue-mimicking materials: How well can 3D printed synthetic myocardium replicate mechanical properties of organic myocardium”, Medtronic scientists and engineers compared mechanical properties of printed myocardium developed using the Digital Anatomy 3D Printer with equivalent tissue. In this case, it was porcine – the foundation for hundreds of medical and cosmetic research and development tests. The team compared porcine myocardial tissue to five myocardial Digital Anatomy materials batch printed. Both sets were put through rigorous tensile, compliance, puncture and suture testing.

Biomechanical testing demonstrated various degrees of success:

  • Similar compliance to tissue
  • Similar failure modes to tissue
  • High repeatability of results
  • Ability to target stiffness values
  • Much closer to tissue than any other printed material available on the market

Researchers reported, “The materials show good promise when it comes to repeatability and compliance related to porcine tissue. This allow for materials to be used to create bench models for device testing, as well as anatomical models to simulate procedures for development and training.”

This is huge news for doctors, researchers, and medical manufacturers looking for reliable alternatives to animal and cadaver testing. Not only is 3D printing more cost-effective, but also provides teams with much needed repeatability to ensure consistent testing and analysis. 

Stratasys will continue to collaborate with leading medical device companies, hospitals, and research institutions to compare the Digital Anatomy materials to native tissue and bone. The data received will be used to perfect new anatomical applications that more closely match the biomechanical properties of human anatomy in healthy and disease states – eliminating or minimizing the need for cadaver and animal models. 

Read the Medtronic Study.

Learn more about the Stratasys Digital Anatomy 3D Printer.

Jessica Coughlin

Jessica Coughlin

Jessica Coughlin currently serves as Director of Market Development for Healthcare at Stratasys. With nearly a decade of experience in the medical and healthcare sectors, Jessica previously held leadership roles at both Cigna and Medtronic.

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