A Soft Artificial Heart 3D Printed by Researchers from ETH Zurich – ZMR Blog
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A Soft Artificial Heart 3D Printed by Researchers from ETH Zurich

As we can witness with the ongoing research and invention, in the past few years, the science of prosthetics has been evolving by leaps and bounds.And concurrently, the soft robotics researchhas been particularlycomplementary. It is worth thinking thatthe methodsusedto create a robot arm that bends and works like almost a real one can also be used to create more complex, delicate organs,such as the heart. Don’t you think so? This is what exactly the Swiss researchers have done in their experiment.

Artificial HeartA doctoral student,Nicholas Cohrs, in the team led by the Professor of Functional Materials Engineering at Swiss Federal Institute of Zurich (ETH Zurich),Wendelin Stark, determined to create the first completely soft artificial heart that imitates the real one as much as possible. Cohrssaid, “Our aim is to create an artificial heart that is approximately the same size as the individual’s own one and is capable ofmimicking the human heart as diligently as possible in function and form.”

There are so many people around the world who suffer from heart failure. And no everyone can count on getting a donor heart. So, in such cases, a working artificial heart can be a ray of hope for those patients. At present, the blood pumps utilized to keep the hearts operational have many disadvantages, including the absence of a physiological pulse and mechanical complications, which can be discomforting for the patient.

The team manufactured the silicon heart by means of a 3-dimensional printing and lost-wax casting procedure. It has a volume of 679 cm3 and weighs 390 g. Cohrs explained, “It is a silicone monoblock with anintricateinternal structure,” This artificial heart has a left and right ventricle, similar to anactual human heart, but they are parted by another chamber in place of a septum. To imitate the human heart’s muscle contractions, pressurized air is used.

Artificial Heart

According to the team, the soft artificial heart essentially moves and functions in a manner identical to a human heart. At present, it has a life expectancy of only around 3,000 beats, after which the substance can no longer tolerate the pressure.Cohrs said, “This was merely a viability test. Our aim was not to exhibit a heart equipped for implantation, but to consider a new approach for the manufacturing of artificial hearts.”One issue with artificial hearts is that plastic and metal mechanisms can be challenging to incorporate with tissue or damage the blood owingto their atypical movement style.

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