Sunday, 19 November, 2017

ETH Zurich uses 3D printing to create "first entirely soft artificial heart"

3D-printed artificial heart beats just like the real thing Researchers Develop Silicone Heart that Beats Almost Like Human Heart
Ben Pena | 15 July, 2017, 05:55

This led scientists at ETH Zurich to create an artificial heart out of silicone that is designed to mimic the natural heart as closely as possible.

Scientists at ETH Zurich recently used 3D printing to create a functional silicone heart that beats nearly like the real thing.

It consists of left and right ventricles that separated by the special chamber which acts as the muscle. An artificial heart more closely based on human physiology could overcome those issues.

Each year, about 26 million people worldwide suffer a heart failure and donors barely cover a fraction of the demand.

Given the sheer complexity of the mechanisms involved, artificial hearts tend to come with a variety of risks, from blood clots to device malfunctions.

The "squishy" artificial heart was manufactured using a 3D-printing, lost-wax casting method. The silicone heart has been developed by Nicholas Cohrs, a doctoral student in the group led by Wendelin Stark, Professor of Functional Materials Engineering at ETH Zurich.

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There are many reasons why this silicone heart couldn't be implanted into a human body.

The creators of the new artificial pump used this testing environment to test the efficiency of their simulated organ. Blood pumps are now used as a substitute or as a stopgap while a patient waits for a donor heart or to recover from the heart problem.

Functional Materials Laboratory researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) have used 3D printing to create a silicone heart that beats nearly like the real thing. As the chamber is inflated and deflate by pressurized air, it pumps the fluid from the chambers. Cohrs noted that it is a silicone monoblock with a complex inner structure. In its evaluation, the team found the silicone materials could only last about 3,000 beats which amounts to a lifespan of less than an hour.

"Currently, our system is probably one of the best in the world", commented Anastasios Petrou, a doctoral student of the Product Development Group Zurich. After that, the material can no longer withstand the strain.

"This was simply a feasibility test", said Cohrs. "Our goal was not to present a heart ready for implantation, but to think about a new direction for the development of artificial hearts", said Cohrs. Most current devices use mechanical approaches to pump blood, which can develop faults and can damage the blood they're pumping. Researchers at ETH Zürich made the heart and tested its performance on a hybrid mock circulation.

The research team removed a heart from a rat and then employed a technique called 4-Flow cannulation to develop the mini heart.

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