It is relatively simple making the step from a CT-scan to a 3D printed object, and that is the reason why several doctors and surgeons are starting to integrate 3D printers into their workflow. Dr. Boyd Goldie for example saves $800 per model and two weeks of lead time by printing bone models on his Ultimaker 2+. Also in London, dr. Andrew Phillips creates leg bone models out of nylon to evaluate the impact of blast injuries.
At Cranfield University, researchers are using Ultimaker printers to develop objects that help medical professionals study fluid paths, enabling better and haptic ways for experience-based training. Researchers at Jagiellonian University in Poland have combine 3D printed structures with transparent molded silicone to create detailed liver models with gains in time and budget. Also replicas of hearts, colons, unborn babies and cancerous structures are created on desktop printers to assist in complex surgeries.
Doctors agree that having a tangible model available greatly aids understanding and pre-surgery planning.
A physical model also comforts relatives of the patients with the knowledge that the professionals involved have already seen a tangible version of the patient’s organs or bones. It can even bring people a lot of joy for example where ultrasounds are converted into tangible models of the babies of visually impaired parents.