Better understanding of 2D imaging through 3D visualization
Voxel printing presents medical evidence in higher resolution and more accurate detail
Holistic understanding of medical data through 3D voxel printing
3D printing expanding medical applications
As part of her Master of Design Innovation research, with supervisor Bernard Guy, Ana Morris used the multi-property printer J750 by Stratasys and the public data set of the VHP (Visible Human Project) to create a fully three-dimensional representation of a patient. The ability to print detail at voxel level (14 micron droplets), enables the display of more detailed information about that person than any other medium so far has been able to. As part of Ana’s research she used a bitmap-based 3D printing workflow, which utilized the available data fully instead of compressing it into standard stl files.
The human body is three dimensional. And even though most clinicians have been trained to draw conclusions from numerical and 2D imaging data, a three-dimensional representation would show the whole context easier and faster. Put in simple lay terms: it could easily show how ‘blockages’ in one part of the body cause problems in other parts. These kind of visual aids could make communication between clinicians as well as between doctors and patients more efficient.
Conventional visualizations of clinical imaging data go through a time-consuming manual assembly process, which unfortunately also compresses the data significantly. This data loss means any 3D model is not truly representative of an individual, but closer to a generic representation of a medical condition. While for some purposes a generic model is sufficient, to view and analyze a specific patient’s data set, the whole range of data needs to be seen and assessed in a holistic manner.
Ana’s research highlights how streamlining one side of the process – in conjunction of using cutting-edge 3D printing technologies – can enhance the quality of diagnostics and care for patients. It is also a very tangible incentive to expand research goals for the medical field, which is of international interest.