The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) introduced its new University Research Facility in 3D Printing that will be able to offer life-sized blood vessels and aortic valves with its 3D printers.

The 620 square-metre facility offers advanced technologies ranging from 3D scanning and computer-aided-design modelling to printing, allowing students to build ideas and concepts in physical models and academics to develop prototypes.

The facility also developed patient-specific 3D printed models that allow medical device prototyping, surgical planning and clinical training – as well as a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) simulation model in collaboration with Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Hong Kong.

The TAVI model, designed to simulate a minimally invasive procedure that replaces open-heart surgery, is essential for patients and helps train doctors. It also helps improve patient safety for higher-risk geriatric patients who need to undergo open-heart surgery

The team at PolyU partnered with simulation training experts and cardiologists at QEHto develop a model that accommodates life-sized, 3D printed blood vessels and aortic valves based on patients' computed tomography images. The advanced model includes a built-in rotatable camera and a screen for displaying real-time black-and-white images and imitates human circulation in terms of fluid flow and temperature.

The model is essential for general training and preparing clinicians for surgeries. In addition, the model allows trainees to improve skills early, heighten teamwork and decrease procedure times. In terms of healthcare benefits for patients, the model is also valuable in seeing failure cases and determining what can be avoided by clinicians in future operations.