State of the Art 3D Printing, now completely on-site!

3D printing has been hailed by many as one of the greatest modern achievements of modelling and prototyping. Conveniently, this has also allowed for greater accuracy and throughput of scientific analysis of biological tissues and structures. For those of us at the Cardiovascular Imaging Lab (CViL) at ACTRI, 3D printing has allowed much of our scientific research to be accelerated, as well as available at a reduced cost. Imaging phantoms which once would have cost thousands of dollars and taken weeks to be built, can now be made at CViL, at low cost, in a matter of days, or even hours.

CViL uses a Form 2 stereolithography printer, manufactured by Formlabs. This printer uses a UV laser to solidify a liquid resin into a hard plastic, essentially working “inversely” to standard, filament-based 3D printer. This allows for significantly higher resolutions, at a slightly increased cost of resin and finishing work required of each print.

Modelling and reconstruction prior to printing has been achieved using programs such as Meshlab, Blender, NetFabb, Meshmixer, and MATLAB.

As of March 20th, 2017, CViL has created prints of highly accurate biological structures, precision-made measurement devices, and even structures to house electrical components. Important biological structures include the following cardiac structures:

-Coronary vessels (including lesions, stenotic regions, etc.)

-Left ventricles (LVs), at various stages of the heart cycle

-Left atrial appendages (LAAs), across the heart cycle