Development of a Multi-Material 3D Printer for Functional Anatomic Models

Laszlo Jaksa, Dieter Pahr, Gernot Kronreif, Andrea Lorenz

Article ID: 420
Vol 7, Issue 4, 2021, Article identifier:420

VIEWS - 834 (Abstract) 116 (PDF)


Anatomic models are important in medical education and pre-operative planning as they help students or doctors prepare for real scenarios in a risk-free way. Several experimental anatomic models were made with additive manufacturing techniques to improve geometric, radiological, or mechanical realism. However, reproducing the mechanical behavior of soft tissues remains a challenge. To solve this problem, multi-material structuring of soft and hard materials was proposed in this study, and a three-dimensional (3D) printer was built to make such structuring possible. The printer relies on extrusion to deposit certain thermoplastic and silicone rubber materials. Various objects were successfully printed for testing the feasibility of geometric features such as thin walls, infill structuring, overhangs, and multi-material interfaces. Finally, a small medical image-based ribcage model was printed as a proof of concept for anatomic model printing. The features enabled by this printer offer a promising outlook on mimicking the mechanical properties of various soft tissues.


Silicone 3D printing, Multi-material 3D printing, Anatomic models, Soft tissues

Full Text:

Download PDF

Included Database


Ventola CL, 2014, Medical Applications for 3D Printing: Current and Projected Uses. P T, 39:704–11.

Rengier F, Mehndiratta A, von Tengg-Kobligk H, et al., 2010, 3D Printing Based on Imaging Data: Review of Medical Applications. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg, 5:335–41.

Wang K, Ho CC, Zhang C, et al., 2017, A Review on the 3D Printing of Functional Structures for Medical Phantoms and Regenerated Tissue and Organ Applications. Engineering, 3:653–62.

Pietrabissa A, Marconi S, Negrello E, et al., 2019, An Overview on 3D Printing for Abdominal Surgery. Surg Endosc, 34(1):1–13.

Preece D, Williams SB, Lam R, et al., 2013, Let’s Get Physical: Advantages of a Physical Model Over 3D Computer Models and Textbooks in Learning Imaging Anatomy. Anat Sci Educ., 6:216–24.

Khot Z, Quinlan K, Norman GR, et al., 2013, The Relative Effectiveness of Computer-based and Traditional Resources for Education in Anatomy. Anat Sci Educ., 6:211–5.

Sulaiman A, Boussel L, Taconnet F, et al., 2008, In vitro Non-rigid Life-size Model of Aortic Arch Aneurysm for Endovascular Prosthesis Assessment. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg, 33:53–7.

Giesel FL, Hart AR, Hahn HK, et al., 2009, 3D Reconstructions of the Cerebral Ventricles and Volume Quantification in Children with Brain Malformations. Acad Radiol, 16:610–7.

Golab A, Smektala T, Kaczmarek K, et al., 2017, Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy Supported by Training Involving Personalized Silicone Replica Poured in Three-Dimensional Printed Casting Mold. J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A, 27:420–2.

Mavili ME, Canter HI, Sağlam-Aydinatay B, et al., 2007, Use of Three-Dimensional Medical Modeling Methods for Precise Planning of Orthognathic Surgery. J Craniofac Surg, 18:740–7.

Poukens J, Haex J, Riediger D, 2003, The Use of Rapid Prototyping in the Preoperative Planning of Distraction Osteogenesis of the Cranio-maxillofacial Skeleton. Comput Aided Surg, 8:146–54.

Tack P, Victor J, Gemmel P, et al., 2016, 3D-Printing Techniques in a Medical Setting: A Systematic Literature Review. Biomed Eng Online, 15:115.

Yan Q, Dong H, Su J, et al., 2018, A Review of 3D Printing Technology for Medical Applications. Engineering, 4:729–42.

Qian Z, Wang K, Liu S, et al., 2017, Quantitative Prediction of Paravalvular Leak in Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Based on Tissue-Mimicking 3D Printing. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging, 10:719–31.

Ratinam R, Quayle M, Crock J, et al., 2019, Challenges in Creating Dissectible Anatomical 3D Prints for Surgical Teaching. J Anat, 234:419–37.

Wang K, Wu C, Qian Z, et al., 2016, Dual-material 3D Printed Metamaterials with Tunable Mechanical Properties for Patient-specific Tissue-mimicking Phantoms. Addit Manuf, 12:31–7.

Wang K, Zhao Y, Chang YH, et al., 2016, Controlling the Mechanical Behavior of Dual-material 3D Printed Meta materials for Patient-specific Tissue-mimicking Phantoms. Mater Des, 90:704–12.

Goh GL, Zhang H, Chong TH, et al., 2021, 3D Printing of Multilayered and Multimaterial Electronics: A Review. Adv Electron Mater, 2021:2100445.

Yap YL, Sing SL, Yeong WY, 2020, A Review of 3D Printing Processes and Materials for Soft Robotics. Rapid Prototyp J, 26:1345–61.

Qiu K, Haghiashtiani G, McAlpine MC, 2018, 3D Printed Organ Models for Surgical Applications. Annu Rev Anal Chem, 11:287–306.

Ngo TD, Kashani A, Imbalzano G, et al., 2018, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing): A Review of Materials, Methods, Applications and Challenges. Compos B Eng, 143:172–96.

Pugliese L, Marconi S, Negrello E, et al., 2018, The Clinical Use of 3D Printing in Surgery. Updates Surg, 70:381–8.

Dorweiler B, Baqué PE, Chaban R, et al., 2021, Quality Control in 3D Printing: Accuracy Analysis of 3D-Printed Models of Patient-Specific Anatomy. Materials, 14:1021.

Stratasys Ltd. Available from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Mirzaali MJ, Nava AH, Gunashekar D, et al., 2020, Mechanics of Bioinspired Functionally Graded Soft-hard Composites Made by Multi-material 3D Printing. Composit Struct, 237:111867.

Ionita CN, Mokin M, Varble N, et al., 2014, Challenges and Limitations of Patient-specific Vascular Phantom Fabrication Using 3D Polyjet Printing. Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng, 9038: 90380M.

Reiter M, Major Z, 2011, A Combined Experimental and Simulation Approach for Modelling the Mechanical Behaviour of Heterogeneous Materials Using Rapid Prototyped Microcells. Virtual Phys Prototyp, 6:111–20.

Hiller J, Lipson H, 2010, Tunable Digital Material Properties for 3D Voxel Printers. Rapid Prototyp J, 16:241–7.

Patent, 2019, Additive Manufacturing of Rubber-like Materials. Patent US2019224914A1.

Slesarenko VY, 2017, Towards Mechanical Characterization of Soft Digital Materials for Multimaterial 3D-Printing. Int J Eng Sci, 123:62–72.

Goh GL, Agarwala S, Yong WI, 2016, 3D Printing of Microfludic Sensor for Soft Robots: A Preliminary Study in Design and Fabrication. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Progress in Additive Manufacturing (Pro-AM 2016). p177–81.

Truby RL, Lewis JA, 2016, Printing Soft Matter in Three Dimensions. Nature, 540:371–8.

Yeo J, Koh J, Wang F, et al., 2020, 3D Printing Silicone Materials and Devices. In: Silicon Containing Hybrid Copolymers. Germany: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA; 2020, p. 239–63.

Zhao Y, Yao R, Ouyang L, et al., 2014, Three-dimensional Printing of Hela Cells for Cervical Tumor Model In Vitro. Biofabrication, 6:035001.

Lee JM, Sing SL, Yeong WY, 2020, Bioprinting of Multimaterials with Computer-aided Design/Computer-aided Manufacturing. Int J Bioprint, 6:245.

Liu W, Zhang YS, Heinrich MA, et al., 2016, Rapid Continuous Multimaterial Extrusion Bioprinting. Adv Mater, 29:1604630.

Hardin JO, Ober TJ, Valentine AD, et al., 2015, Microfluidic Printheads for Multimaterial 3D Printing of Viscoelastic Inks. Adv Mater, 27:3279–84.

Skylar-Scott MA, Mueller J, Visser CW, et al., 2019, Voxelated Soft Material Via Multimaterial Multinozzle 3D Printing. Nature, 575:330–4.

Wacker Chemie AG, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

GermanRepRap GmbH, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Fripp Design Ltd., 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Deltatower GmbH, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Spectroplast AG, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Coulter F, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Coulter F, Schaffner M, Faber J, et al., 2019, Bioinspired Heart Valve Prosthesis Made by Silicone Additive Manufacturing. Matter, 1:266–79.

Luis E, Pan HM, Sing SL, et al., 2019, Silicone 3D Printing: Process Optimization, Product Biocompatibility, and Reliability of Silicone Meniscus Implants. 3D Print Addit Manufact, 6:319–32.

Luis E, Pan HM, Sing SL, et al., 2020, 3D Direct Printing of Silicone Meniscus Implant Using a Novel Heat-Cured Extrusion-Based Printer. Polymers, 12:1031.

Patent, 2017, 3D-printing Device and Process for Producting an Object with Use of a 3D-Printing Device, Patent WO2017108208A1.

Patent, 2017, 3D Printing Method Utilizing Heat-curable Silicone Composition, Patent WO2017040874A1.

Studart AR, 2016, Additive Manufacturing of Biologically inspired Materials. Chem Soc Rev, 45:359–76.

Bakarich SE, Gorkin R, Panhuis M, et al., 2014, Three-Dimensional Printing Fiber Reinforced Hydrogel Composites. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces, 6:15998–16006.

Viscotec GmbH, 2021, Avaialble from: https://www.viscotec. de/produkte/3d-druckkoepfe [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

White JS, Akens T, 2021, Avaialble from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Duet3D Advanced 3D Printing Electronics, 2021, Available from: [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].

Prusa Research, 2021, Avaialble from: https://www.prusa3d. com/prusaslicer [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 10].



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Jaksa et al.

License URL: