3D printing skeletons of living animals via CT scans
The world of 3D printing is producing more incredible ways that the technology can be used every day. With the ability to create a 3D printed skeleton of a living animal, the world of modern medicines has opened up even more unforeseen avenues in both veterinary and human medicine.
The image you see above it that of a rat skeleton, and while the idea of such a thing isn't that important the way in which it was created is. You see, that skeleton is the exact match for a living rat, and was created using 3D printing methods and the data from a CT scan of the rat.
You can be assured that when the whole idea of 3D printing first started gaining momentum the last thing anyone thought of was to print out some animal skeleton. However, like all good things, it took a casual conversation between engineering student Evan Doney and an ear, nose, and throat specialist he had gone to see. The conversations resulted in the collaborative effort to print out the skeletal structures.
Then Doney, along with some colleagues, used several freeware programs to convert the data from CT scans into a data format that can be read by a 3D printer, which they then used to print out a rat skeleton in white plastic as well as a removable set of lungs in green.
It is thought that this use of 3D printing, based on patient CT scans, could help surgeons prepare for difficult surgeries – like removing tumors that would otherwise be hard to isolate. In addition, this kind of idea would be a big boon to education as a high quality cast of the human skull can cost educational institutes hundreds of dollars, and complete skeletons can be thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, 3D printed skulls could cost as little as $10 to $20, which would allow students to each have their own skulls to play with.