Scientists develop 3D-printed soft silicone heart

Scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland have developed a 3D-printed soft silicone heart that closely resembles and functions like the human organ.

It is not exact biological replica of the actual, but can help to save lives of people who suffer from cardiac failure. It can be also used as an artificial heart in cases when patient is awaiting a heart transplant.

Key Facts

The 3D-printed soft artificial heart is a silicone monoblock with complex inner structure. It weighs 390 grams and has a volume of 679 cubic centimetres. It is made of silicone using a 3D printed mold. It represents one of the most advanced replicas yet created of one of human’s most important organs.

The artificial heart has a right and a left ventricle which are not separated by a septum but by an additional chamber. This chamber is inflated and deflated by pressurised air required to pump fluid from the blood chambers.

This current model is not yet stable enough to be used in an actual patient. At present, it can only work for several thousand beats, lasting around 30 to 45 minutes. Researchers are planning to develop an advanced model which could conceivably work over a period of years.

3D Printing Technology

3D printing is a process of making 3-D (three dimensional) solid objects from a digital file with extreme precision. This technology is also termed additive manufacturing as the 3D printed object is created us additive processes i.e. by laying down successive layers of manufacturing material on each other until the entire object is created. This technology has limitless possibilities and can create almost anything with just raw material and a computer generated model.