Researchers 3D print lifelike heart valve models

College of Science and Engineering, August 28, 2020

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with support from Medtronic, have developed a groundbreaking process for multi-material 3D printing of lifelike models of the heart’s aortic valve and the surrounding structures that mimic the exact look and feel of a real patient.

These patient-specific organ models, which include 3D-printed soft sensor arrays integrated into the structure, are fabricated using specialized inks and a customized 3D printing process.

“Our goal with these 3D-printed models is to reduce medical risks and complications by providing patient-specific tools to help doctors understand the exact anatomical structure and mechanical properties of the specific patient’s heart,” said MnDRIVE faculty Michael McAlpine, a mechanical engineering professor and senior researcher on the study. “Physicians can test and try the valve implants before the actual procedure. The models can also help patients better understand their own anatomy and the procedure itself.”

Aortic root models
Patient-specific organ models can be used in preparation for minimally invasive procedures to improve outcomes in thousands of patients worldwide. Credit: McAlpine Group, University of Minnesota