July 17, 2017
This news will get your heart racing. We’ve heard of 3D printed toys, bird beaks, and prosthetic limbs and now we’ve got internal organs up on that list. A small team at ETH has designed a 3D printed artificial heart.
The team was led by doctoral student Nicholas Cohrs and they believe that it is first of its kind. This only proves that the possibilities of what technology can achieve is being redefined every day. The techniques that go into making a robotic arm that flexes the way you need it to, is being made more complex to make internal organs function as they are supposed to.
The team which built the artificial heart says that it is completely soft. It has a pumping mechanism that causes the silicon ventricles to pump like a real one. Technically speaking, it almost beats like a real one. Inside the heart, there just isn’t a wall for the ventricles, but a chamber that fills and deflates to create the pumping action. The complex structure was made using a 3D printer and the material used was soft and flexible, give it the desired results.
The entire artificial heart is one structure, a monoblock. Hence, the question of how the different mechanisms fit together doesn’t arise. There is of course an input and output ports, where the blood comes and goes. The current state of this artificial heart isn’t ready for implantation. This heart doesn’t last up to more than a thousand heart beats that is about half an hour.
Although it isn’t ready for implantation, this artificial heart has opened a wider arena as to what technology can do. It is a live proof of the concept. The researching and developing team has similar belief. “I’m now so fascinated by this research that I would very much like to continue working on the development of artificial hearts,” said Anastasious Petrou a grad student working on this project.