Custom, 3D-Printed Silicone Heart Valves Fit Patients Perfectly

Scientists at ETH Zurich  are using 3D printing to manufacture custom-made artificial heart valves from silicone. Unlike conventional heart valves, the silicone heart valve can be tailored more precisely to the patient. The researchers first determine the individual shape and size of a leaky heart valve using computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. This makes it possible to print a heart valve that fits a patient’s heart chamber exactly. The scientists use the images to create a digital model and a computer simulation to calculate in advance the forces acting on the implant and its potential deformation. Elastomeric printing enables mechanical matching with the host biological tissue.