Researchers created the first 3D printed heart made of a soft material

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists are dreaming that, one day, we will be able to 3D print perfectly functional organs. So far, they haven’t been able to achieve much in the field, but a team of Swiss researchers were able to develop a functional 3D model of the most important organ in the body. This is one of the most well-developed replicas of a 3D printed heart ever created.

The model is made of silicone, but it doesn’t reproduce a 100 percent biologically accurate organ. Even so, the 3D printed heart could be used to maintain the vital functions of a person while waiting to receive a transplant.

A soft heart model solves the anticoagulation problem

Researchers developed their device as an alternative to typical heart support mechanisms. They are usually made of materials like plastic, titanium, or steel, which are much too hard. They might cause the blood to become less fluid and form clots, leading to other serious problems.

In fact, anticoagulation of blood is one of the most severe issues which might occur to people who had suffered a heart transplant. Therefore, creating a soft 3D printed heart might solve the thick blood problem, allowing the device to work without using any anticoagulants.

The 3D printed heart is not yet ready to sustain a patient

Therefore, scientists created a mold of the organ, which then was used to create the 3D printed heart made of silicone. They also used the mold to create silicone pumps, which then were fit to use the same pumping pattern of a real heart.

This is a huge progress, but the 3D model is not yet 100 percent stable. At the moment, the device is able to maintain only several thousand beats, which translates as 30 to 45 minutes. Therefore, it is not yet ready to be used in a patient, but researchers are working on another model to work for a few years.
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