The skeleton above was created by taking a CT scan of an anesthetized rat and sending the data to a 3-D printer. Similar life-size models of body parts from other animals or human patients could be used to train veterinary and medical students and to help surgeons prepare for difficult surgeries, the researchers say.
The idea to print skeletons from CT scans came from Evan Doney, an engineering student working in the lab of Matthew Leevy, who runs the biological imaging facility at the University of Notre Dame. ”At first I didn’t really know what the killer app would be, I just knew it would be really cool,” Leevy said. But he began to see new possibilities after striking up a conversation with an ear, nose, and throat specialist during an office visit for a sinus problem. “I actually got out my computer and showed him some slides, and by the end of it we were collaborating.”
Doney used several freeware programs to convert data from CT scans into a format that could be read by a 3-D printer. As a proof of principle, he and colleagues printed a rat skeleton in white plastic and printed a removable set of lungs in green or purple. They also printed out a rabbit skull….
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