ALTHOUGH 3D bioprinting, which involves the creation of human tissue, is still beyond the scope of local researchers, they have already adopted conventional 3D printing to aid them in other areas of their work.
Over at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr Edmond Zahedi, associate professor, and Dr Gan Kok Beng, senior lecturer and research fellow, who are both from the faculty of engineering and built environment, are using 3D printing to enhance their rapid prototyping projects.
These kinds of projects tend to have very short lead times from conceptualisation to the final implementation stage, and usually are concluded within a matter of days.
“We are trying to minimise the risk of failure in our projects,” says Zahedi. “The best way to do this is to test the minimal functional product as soon as you can by giving end users something to feel and play with so they can give you enough feedback to enhance your design.”
3D printing helps to make such early testing phases possible by enabling Zahedi and Gan to quickly create the customised components that they require for their prototypes.
During the interview with Bytz, they demonstrated how 3D printed plastic cases made it possible for them to develop a wrist probe that measures pressure in the radial artery and an abdominal probe to measure the heart rate of a fetus in a pregnant woman without the need for an ultrasound.
Meanwhile, in Universiti Malaya, Prof Dr Fatimah Ibrahim, head of the centre for innovation in medical engineering shares that 3D printing is also revolutionising the projects that she is working on such as a CD (compact disc) microfluidic device which can be used to detect the presence of the dengue virus at early stages.
Her team relies on 3D printing in order to rapidly develop different possible CD designs for the device. Previously, this was carried out through a tedious, manual process, but this is now no longer necessary.
“With 3D printing, it (the design) will be more accurate,” Fatimah says.