Advanced 3D printing and manufacturing techniques that can produce soft machines could save a lot of lives in the future. They could be used to make not just soft robots for search and rescue, but also temporary organs for people on the transplant waiting list, like the artificial heart created and tested by a team of researchers from ETH Zurich. The researchers have developed a silicone heart that beats like the real organ does using a 3D-printing, lost-wax casting technique.
In the future, it could be used as an temporary heart instead of the blood pumps hospitals use today for patients waiting for a heart transplant. Since it’s a single solid silicone structure, it doesn’t have the usual disadvantages associated with typical pumps’ metallic and plastic mechanisms, which are susceptible to complications. That’s why when the team set out to create an artificial heart, they made it their goal to develop one that “is roughly the same size as the patient’s own one and which imitates the human heart as closely as possible in form and function.”
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