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Ultra-Low-Cost Additive Layer Manufacturing in Healthcare

This research considered the suitability of low cost Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) systems for application to biomedical modelling, with particular reference to the quality of the models produced and reliability of the system.

Additive Layer Manufacturing is a technique by which objects are built up layer by layer from a CAD model. The particular type of ALM used in this project was Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) which is extrusion of a polymer filament through a heated print head.

ALM machines are used to produce biomedical models for surgeons to visualise medical scan data from MRI and CT scanners prior to operations to plan the procedure. These physical models can also be used for training purposes. The expensive initial cost of high-end ALM machines, combined with the machine time and material cost, makes these models expensive to produce. With the advent of lower cost systems in the hobbyist and academic circles, an opportunity to manufacture these biomedical models for a far lower cost presents itself.

The low cost system used in this project is the RepRap (Replicating Rapid Prototyper) which was initially developed at Bath University by Dr Adrian Bowyer. This project is Open Source and has been available for anyone to build, and as such, improvements have come from a variety of sources and have made their way into the RepRap’s design. The specific RepRap type used in this work was modified by the Thames Valley RepRap User Group (TVRRUG).

This project was undertaken by Matt Truscott as part of a WMG Summer Internship, funded by the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme, and took place between July and September of 2012

Read the project poster (Image file)

 


 

 

WMG, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL | Dr Greg Gibbons : +44 (0) 24 7652 2524