We’ve seen plenty of 3D printed heart models used as helpful surgical planning tools, and 3D printing technology has helped with heart conditions in many other ways, like 3D printed patches that can help treat ischemia, using artificial intelligence to analyze 3D virtual hearts, and special 3D printed medical tools surgeons use during complicated surgeries. But what we haven’t seen is a 3D printed artificial heart, made of silicone, that has a heartbeat – and that’s just what researchers from the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zurich have developed.
It’s the first entirely soft artificial heart ever created. Silicone has been used in medical 3D printing before, making better breast implants and creating lifelike prosthetics, but the silicone heart created by ETH Zurich is something new. The researchers, together with colleagues from the Product Development Group Zurich, which is led by Professor Mirko Meboldt, have been testing the soft 3D printed heart to determine how well it can function in comparison to a real heart.