Researchers successfully 3D print a flexible medical sensor on an expanded lung

According tomedia reports, 3D printing is tricky, even if the surface of the print is completely still. Now imagine 3D printing a key medical sensor on an expanding and contracting organ such as the lungs or heart. This is a whole new challenge, but it is a challenge that can be overcome. A team of computer scientists and mechanical engineers at the University of Minnesota (UMN) published a study of 3D-printed deformable sensors Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. The university released a video showing the operation of its printing technology.

Researchers successfully 3D print a flexible medical sensor on an expanded lung

The method uses motion capture technology to track the position of the flexible sensor during 3D printing. The team used tags similar to those used in movie motion capture. They stepped up to print out a flexible sensor on an artificially inflated animal’s lungs. The technology is still in its early stages, but it has many possible uses to diagnose and monitor medical conditions, as well as to treat wounds. The team believes it can be adapted to the outside and inside of the body. It may even be used on a beating heart.

The UMN McAlpine research team, led by mechanical engineer Michael McAlpine, has previously demonstrated a way to print electronic components directly on the rotating human hand skin.

The new crown pandemic has put the robotics of auxiliary medical professionals in the spotlight, from robots that collect vital signs to robots that can detect new coronaviruses.

“In the future, 3D printing will be part of a larger autonomous robot system,” McAlpine said in a UMN research briefing Wednesday. “This can be important for diseases like COVID-19, where health care providers are at risk of treating patients. “