Additive manufacturing of anatomical models from computed tomography scan data
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The purpose of the study presented here was to investigate the manufacturability of human anatomical models from Computed Tomography (CT) scan data via a 3D desktop printer which uses fused deposition modelling (FDM) technology. First, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) CT scan data were converted to 3D Standard Triangle Language (STL) format by using InVaselius digital imaging program. Once this STL file is obtained, a 3D physical version of the anatomical model can be fabricated by a desktop 3D PDM printer. As a case study, a patient's skull CT scan data was considered, and a tangible version of the skull was manufactured by a 3D FDM desktop printer. During the 3D printing process, the skull was built using acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) co-polymer plastic. The printed model showed that the 3D FDM printing technology is able to fabricate anatomical models with high accuracy. As a result, the skull model can be used for preoperative surgical planning, medical training activities, implant design and simulation to show the potential of the FDM technology in medical field. It will also improve communication between medical stuff and patients. Current result indicates that a 3D desktop printer which uses FDM technology can be used to obtain accurate anatomical models.