Research in medicine supported by 3D printing

The development of medicine is strongly linked to technological progress. The more instruments there are, the better the chances of coming up with innovative and ground-breaking solutions. Therefore, it is important to exchange knowledge and experience between medical professional and student communities with representatives of scientific and technological centres. Such initiative was undertaken by the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw and the University of Warsaw during "Citizens in Medicine" hackathon organized by the European SPARKS project. During the event the possibilities of 3D printing were presented.

Engineers, students, designers and scientists participated in the hackathon. During the event they worked on a method of saving children who suffer from congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Currently, to treat this condition doctors apply the so-called FETO procedure, which involves surgical placement of a balloon filled with saline in the trachea of the baby in the womb. The balloon is removed shortly before the birth. Due to the fact that this procedure requires a lot of precision, only best trained gynaecologists from large university centres venture to perform it. Participants of the hackathon had a task to come up with a solution so that the procedure could be performed in less advanced hospitals.

The ideas were brought to life thanks to Fiberlogy’s filaments and 3DGence printers. Students could design a prototype, print it and then test how it worked. Subsequent iterations led to the creation of more and more precise solutions. Students and doctors participating in the hackathon jointly concluded that this was one of the fastest methods of detailing projects.

The meeting lasted for about 10 hours. During this time four teams developed four great projects. The Jury picked two that had the greatest chance of really being implemented. These were a Fetoinductor and a balloon with a “sushi” induction-activated valve.

A modern, multidisciplinary approach to developing solutions has enabled the creation of projects that have found use in the medical world. Maybe this is how the future of science should look?