skin, prosthetic, image, 3d scanning, 3d printing,

A team of UK researchers led by Dr. Sophie Wuerger, University of Liverpool, is attempting to create 3D printed skin that can be matched to a patient based on his or her age, gender and ethnicity.

While 3D printed skin is already available, it can only be manufactured in a single monotone sheet. Thus, while the printed skin is a wonder, it doesn’t really meet the cosmetic standards of an advanced prosthetic. According to Dr. Wuerger, “The human visual system is extremely sensitive to small distortions in skin appearance, so making a convincing synthetic version will be essential whether this technology is used for emergency or cosmetic medicine.”

Over the course of the next three years, Dr. Wuerger will lead an effort to create a robust 3D imaging and skin modelling program that can accurately scan and create an image of a person’s skin. Once scanned, the image could be embedded into a 3D printed skin profile where it would be used to create custom-tailored skin that would mirror the bumps, crinkles, veins and tones found elsewhere on a patient’s body.

Beyond bespoke therapies, Liverpool researchers are also looking into creating a database of skin types that can be used by patients that don’t have access to 3D scanning technologies. From this database a stock set of skins could be rendered that would match various skin types with a high level of accuracy.

Although Dr. Wuerger admits “This science is at an early stage,” she is justifiably confident in her research “[T]he advantages of 3D printing for medicine are enormous.” I couldn’t agree more.

Image Courtesy of University of Liverpool

 

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