As reported by 3DPrint, researchers at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health Care System in Michigan “are developing a 3D printed artificial lung, which would be used to help treat veterans affected by lung disease.”
Indeed, 16% “of the veteran population suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)…Some of the most common factors leading to lung issues for active-duty military include exposure to burn pits, chemicals, diesel exhaust, and sand.”
Now, however, there is hope. This Michigan-based team led by biomedical engineer Dr. Joseph Potkay “have long been researching the advantages of using microfabrication to build artificial lungs with efficient gas exchange and blood paths similar to those in human lungs.” Dr. Potkay even developed a 2D printed artificial lung prototype in 2011.
Dr. Potkay says “the 3D printed version currently in the works will provide the same basic advantages. With the freedom afforded by being able to design the device in three dimensions instead of two, 3D printing should result in artificial lungs with a smaller overall footprint and with increased efficiency. Thus, portability and performance will potentially improve using 3D printing.”
These 3D printed artificial lungs will be about a half-inch “cube in size, hopefully able to fit in a backpack, and be used for a week; however, after further development, the hope is to get the lung to work for longer amounts of time.” These devices will thus be far more portable and far less bulky than their present day predecessors.
“The goal behind the VA research is to create the first truly wearable artificial lung that’s compatible with living tissue and can provide both short and long-term respiratory support, and microfluidic artificial lungs also use far less blood than current commercial devices do.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint