Tag Archives: medical

3D printing electronic heart pumps

3D printing technology – projected to be a $3 billion business by 2016 – is rapidly evolving, particularly in the medical space. Indeed, 3D printed orthopedic implants were recently fitted in Peking’s University Third Hospital in Beijing, while doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan successfully transplanted 3D printed bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation.


Similarly, 3D printing tech helped Doctors at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University repair a patient’s damaged skull in China, while researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology used 3D printing technology to create living human kidneys. And now scientists at Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS (UK) Trust are developing an electronic smart pump to help victims of chronic heart failure.

Essentially, the device creates a counter blood-flow by ‘beating’ out of phase with the diseased heart. When the heart fills with blood, the woven tube contracts to increase pressure in the heart. When the heart then pumps oxygenated blood around the body, the tube expands to release the pressure and increase the blood flow. Using 3D printing techniques, the smart pumps will be tailored for individual patients based on MRI scan data. The smart pump – powered by a battery implanted in the patient’s body – is also expected to be entirely self-contained.

“This device could really be groundbreaking and more effective than any other therapy currently being used around the world. Chronic heart failure is a major health challenge and up to 40 per cent of sufferers die within the first year,” Dr. Philip Breedon of Nottingham Trent University explained.

“The best form of treatment is a heart transplant, but the demand by far outweighs the supply . The technology currently used to help people with acute heart failure can only be used for a few days and involves the patient being attached to large external machines which need to be plugged into the mains power supply. [However], the smart aortic graft has the potential to not only extend a patient’s life, but also to provide them with mobility and comfort.”

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the DIY Maker Movement has used Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing recently entered a new and exciting stage in a number of spaces including the medical sphere, architectural arena, science lab and even on the battlefield.

3D printing with Atmel engineers

Recently, more than 20 hobbyists and DIY Makers hosted a 3D printing demonstration at EpiCentral Coworking in downtown Colorado Springs. According to Chris Vestal, who organized the meeting, several hobbyists were building their own 3D printers at the event, while others showcased completed prototypes.

Vestal says he has already formed a company dubbed “MotoMinded” which is slated to sell plastic containers for dirt bike fuel injectors made with a 3D printer.

“I bought my own printer in January because I had an idea for this product that I will sell for $38. So far, I have made 25 of them that I have sent to professional dirt bike racers for testing, but I plan on selling them starting Sept. 16,” Vestal told Wayne Heilman who writes for the local Gazette. “I worked for General Motors as a designer for headlights and taillights, and when we wanted to make prototypes, we went to the printing team and it took an entire day to make the part with a printer that took up an entire room.”

At least two Atmel engineers attended the 3D printing event, including Steve Clark and Randy Melton. Clark told the Gazaette he was building his own 3D printer from a kit and plans to use the device to make trinkets, prototypes and replacement parts for mechanical devices. Meanwhile, Melton showcased his 3D printer in action, which he routinely tasks with making parts for his Shop-Vac.


“The printer is an Ord-Bot Hadron built from Makerslide. The electronics? Ardiuno, using Atmel’s mega2560 and the ramps driver board,” said Melton. “This is additive manufacturing that builds up layer-by-layer, which is much less wasteful that a router that starts with a block and cuts away at it. Big companies use this technology to build prototypes and hobbyists have these printers, but in five to 10 years, most consumers will have one.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the DIY Maker Movement has used Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing recently entered a new and exciting stage in a number of spaces including the medical spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield.

Growing cartilage cells with 3D printing tech

Last month, we discussed how medical researchers successfully designed and printed a 3D splint to save the life of an infant born with severe tracheobronchomalacia – a serious birth defect that causes the airway to collapse.

And today we’re taking a closer look at how Melbourne scientists recently took a big step towards the development of “growing your own” cartilage to treat cancers, osteoarthritis and traumatic injuries.

According to the Australian Herald Sun, the pea-sized spheres of cartilage were grown over 28 days using stem cells taken from tissue under the kneecap.

Leveraging 3D printing technologies, the researchers managed to create a 3D scaffold on which to grow cartilage cells, or chondrocytes. Lead researcher Associate Professor Damian Myers said the above-mentioned procedure marked the first time true cartilage had been grown, as opposed to “fibrocartilage,” something which does not work in the long-term.

“It’s very exciting work, and we’ve done the hard yards to show that what we have cultured is what we want for use in surgery for cartilage repair,” he told the Herald Sun. “[Remember], a normal cartilage repair might only last a couple of years.”

Myers also noted that his long-term goal is advanced surgery for limb salvage and repair, including using a patient’s own stem cells to grow muscles, fat, bone and tendons.

And why not?

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Maker Movement has used Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for quite some time now, although it is abundantly clear that 3D printing has entered a new and important stage in recent months, especially in the medical sphere.

Authenticating Consumable Products — Fakes Kill

By:Tom Moulton

How do you know whether that ink cartridge, air purification filter or medical test strip is really from the vendor on the sticker, or if you bought a cheap knockoff?  From an OEM perspective, how do you know your customers aren’t using those knockoffs, rather than something made or authorized by you? That guessing game can be eliminated with the addition of a simple, inexpensive crypto device in the design of your consumable products. The crypto device can be embedded in the consumable (client). When the consumable is installed or first used in the system (host), it is sent a challenge from the host. This challenge could be a fixed or random value. The host sends the challenge to the client, and the chip in the client calculates the response and sends the response back to the host. Upon receiving the response, the host compares it with the expected response. Only a consumable that provides the expected response can be used in the system. Sounds simple doesn’t it? This type of consumable authentication system is inexpensive and easy to implement.

In fact, a number of other configurations are available in these devices and can make the system even more secure. Some of these include: limiting the usage amount of the consumable attached to the system using a special key which can be used only for a limited number of times or by creating a unique key in the chip which is diversified based on its serial number. The benefit is that if an accessory is compromised, it would not affect other accessories because each accessory has its own unique key. And for the ultimate solution to consumable authentication, put a crypto chip in both the host and the client! The expected response can now be stored in hardware instead of embedding it in the host microprocessor code. This makes the response irretrievable for hackers who are attempting to circumvent the system. Isn’t a company’s reputation more important than the effort it would take to implement a simple solution like this? My suggestion is to only buy consumable products that use this type of hardware authentication solution.  Who knows, some day your life might depend on having the right consumable in a company’s product!

What’s the price on health? Wireless Hacking is No Joke.

Hackers have extended their reach beyond just computers and phones.  Some are targeting devices that go into a patient’s body, such as pacemakers, or that help administer drugs, such as insulin pumps.  Researchers have successfully demonstrated how a hacker can wirelessly hack into the system and take control.  As a result, a random level of electrical shock can be sent to the heart patient or the wrong dosage of drugs can be injected.  Although the incentive in such a hack is not obvious, who knows what goes on in the mind of a criminal?  Devices with inadequate security are prone to such attacks, and the financial liabilities to the manufacturers can be crippling.  Fortunately, these kinds of breaches can be easily prevented by implementing a hardware-level security device.