3D printing does not only give advantage to patients but also doctors. This technology provides a tool that makes it easier for medical professionals to do their job as well as medical students during their training. Hamish McIntosh, an industrial engineering masters student from Victoria University of Wellington, developed a way to make suture training a real-life experience for medical students by using 3D printing to create artificial skin.
Suturing is an art for experienced doctors but those who are still studying in medical schools, they need to perfect this skill thus they practice on anything that resemble the skin of living humans and these include cadavers and pig’s feet. With his innovation, the 3D printed epidermis simulates the human skin in terms of texture and flexibility thus medical students can practice anytime they want.
McIntosh specializes in multi-material 3D printing which incorporates different kinds of materials in order to create the finished product. To create the 3D printed epidermis, he experimented with encasing fluids inside the 3D skin models. Using the Stratasys Connex 3D printer, he was able to successfully create the 3D skin using various materials including rubber. What was remarkable with his invention was that he was able to insert fluid into the model to create a remarkable likeness of the human skin as it simulates the fluid pressure of the skin and has minimal thickness of the rubber components that really mimics the real thing.
His new invention using 3D printing is very helpful in training medical students to practice their craft so that, by the time they graduate, they have already honed their skills in suturing.