Expectant parents can now get a 3D printed model of their unborn child.
Ultrasound images can be used to build a three dimensional view of a foetus and recreate its features in stunning detail.
The model can be used to give parents an early glimpse at their baby or it can be used to look for signs of physical abnormalities.
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Ultrasound images are used to build a three dimensional view of the foetus and recreate the features of the baby in stunning detail. Parents can now get a model of their baby before it is born
Ivan Gridin, Founder of Russian firm Embryo 3D, initially created the technology to help a friend during her pregnancy.
Video footage shows expectant mother Yuliana Recu undergoing an ultrasound scan in the city of Ufa, from which a 3D printed model is replicated.
Mr Gridin added that the models can now be modified to create a metal-plated version.
‘I have a friend (who) was worried about the health of her child and wanted to see it,’ he said.
‘She had an ultrasound several times, but it wasn’t enough. I was fond of new technologies at that time and 3D-printing. And I said “let’s print it”.’
‘Earlier we printed only from plastic, but now we are able to make plaster models and cover them with precious metals.’
The modelling process focuses mostly on details such as the shape and formation of the fingers and toes and even facial features.
Ultrasound images are brought together to create a computer image which is then 3D printed to create a detailed model of the unborn child
Ms Recu told International Business Times: ‘We ordered a 3D model of our child, which is in my belly now.
‘It is a weird feeling, the child hasn’t been born yet and but you can touch it and feel it as it is.’
Physical, tangible models are the next step on from complex and detailed 3D imaging techniques that advanced from the original, blurry Polaroid photos.
Brazilian scientists developed 3D imaging technology in 2016 that allowed parents to view realistic images of their unborn children.
They used the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to bring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans to life.
Parents could then view sharp and realistic images of the foetus instead of the traditionally blurred polaroids.
The modelling process focuses mostly on details such as the shape and formation of the fingers and toes and even facial features
The Russian firm can 3D print the images of the ultrasound and even apply a thin layer of precious metal over the plastic model to produce a gold or silver plated foetus
WHAT IS 3D PRINTING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
First invented in the 1980s by Chuck Hull, an engineer and physicist, 3D printing technology – also called additive manufacturing – is the process of making an object by depositing material, one layer at a time.
Similarly to how an inkjet printer adds individual dots of ink to form an image, a 3D printer adds material where it is needed, based on a digital file.
Many conventional manufacturing processes involved cutting away excess materials to make a part, and this can lead to wastage of up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) for every one pound of useful material, according to the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
By contrast, with some 3D printing processes about 98 per cent of the raw material is used in the finished part, and the method can be used to make small components using plastics and metal powders, with some experimenting with chocolate and other food, as well as biomaterials similar to human cells.
3D printers have been sued to manufacture everything from prosthetic limbs to robots, and the process follows these basic steps:
· Creating a 3D blueprint using computer-aided design (CAD) software
· Preparing the printer, including refilling the raw materials such as plastics, metal powders and binding solutions.
· Initiating the printing process via the machine, which builds the object.
· 3D printing processes can vary, but material extrusion is the most common, and it works like a glue gun: the printing material is heated until it liquefies and is extruded through the print nozzle
· Using information from the digital file, the design is split into two-dimensional cross-sections so the printers knows where to put the material
· The nozzle deposits the polymer in thin layers, often 0.1 millimetre (0.004 inches) thick.
· The polymer rapidly solidifies, bonding to the layer below before the build platform lowers and the print head adds another layer (depending on the object, the entire process can take anywhere from minutes to days.)
· After the printing is finished, every object requires some post-processing, ranging from unsticking the object from the build platform to removing support, to removing excess powders.
The technology layers MRI scans to create an accurate model.
Using the headset, the expectant parents can see their unborn child from outside the womb.
Virtual reality models are incredibly lifelike, and recreate the entire internal structure of the foetus.
Images of the respiratory tract and other developments within the body of a foetus can be observed, which can aid doctors in assessing abnormalities.
The model can be used to give parents an early glimpse at their baby or it can be used to look for signs of physical abnormalities
Previously, VR and Oculus Rift headsets have been combined to produce accurate and lifelike models of unborn children. This physical, tangible model can be used to detect birth defects
VR images are more useful for diagnosing any conditions the foetus may have, but the physical model is more intimate for soon-to-be parents.
Oculus Rift 2 technology can place the user in a virtual world that includes the heartbeat of the baby.
In the immersive world, parents can turn their head and see the baby in incredible detail, as long as they are wearing the headset.
Study co-author Dr Heron Werner Jr from the Clinica de Diagnostico por Imagem in Brazil, said at the time the study was published: ‘The experience with the Oculus Rift has been wonderful.
‘It provides fetal images that are sharper and clearer than ultrasound and MR images viewed on a traditional display.’
WHAT IS AN ULTRASOUND SCAN?
Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in sonar. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back.
By measuring these waves and their behaviour it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as the object’s size, shape and consistency – whether the object is solid or filled with fluid.
Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, uses a small probe and some gel placed on the skin of the patient.
The probe, a transducer, transmits sounds through the gel and into the body.
When the transducer collects the sounds that bounce back, a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image.
Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in sonar. Ultrasound shave a range of uses, but are most widely used for creating images of a foetus in the womb during pregnancy
Ultrasound imaging does not use high-energy or ionising waves of light, so there is no damage to the patient.
Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Conventional ultrasound images are flat and two dimensional, but recent advancements have allowed hundreds to be taken simultaneously to create a 3D image of the area.
Ultrasounds have a range of uses, but are most widely used for creating images of a foetus in the womb during pregnancy.
They are also used to assess pain, inflammation and swelling in afflicted areas.
As well as assessing symptoms, they can be used as a diagnosis tool for determining the cause of illness in most organs.