April 04, 2013, 4:25 PM — Last month, we saw an incredible use of 3D printing where doctors replaced 75 percent of a man's skull. Now, one University of Notre Dame grad student is one-upping the this accomplishment by recreating the entire skeleton of a living mouse.
Evan Doney, an engineering student at the University of Notre Dame, says that he's come up with a process to 3D-print entire skeletons from CT scans. Beyond talk, Evan, along with colleagues from Matthew Leevy's biological imaging facility, have already replicated a complete rat skeleton, as well as a rabbit skull.
Evan worked out a system of freeware programs that convert the CT scans into a 3D-printable file. The students say that on top of 3D printing creating high-resolution replicas, these models could also be made in multiple colors to highlight problem areas like tumors.
Evan and Matthew say that these replicas could be extremely useful to help surgeons to better understand the anatomy of the human patient or animal before even making their first incision. At the same time, this technique could help dramatically reduce the costs for anatomically correct skeletal replicas.
If you want to know more about how you turn CT scans into 3D prints you can read the open-access paper for yourself.