Creatz3D, a Singapore-based 3D printing solutions provider announced recently that it has come out with 3D printed Medical Manikins to serve as effective training aids for respiratory swab collection.
As we adjust to the new normal in the fight against COVID-19 in Singapore, there is a growing and urgent need to train more swabbers to support and ramp-up wider swab testing efforts in the unprecedented times. Swab tests form an integral part of the fight against COVID-19 as it determines whether a person is infected.
In Singapore, training for swab collection is carried out by many health professionals who have voluntarily taken time off to selected civilians who often do not possess medical knowledge. Existing medical manikins in the market are deemed lacking representative features to facilitate the execution of these three essential procedures:
- Nasal mid-turbinate swab
- Nasopharyngeal swab
- Oropharyngeal swab
Roping in its sister company, AuMed, a bespoke medical simulator company, the manikin was designed from scratch using several anatomical 3D models derived from AuMed’s CT and MRI library, before fusing them into one big piece for 3D printing using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite (MIS) Medical.
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Capable of printing multi-material and multi-colors in one print, the team relied on Stratasys J750 to cut down the lead time of a few months with traditional manufacturing, to just 4 days including designing and 3D printing.
The 3D printed manikins presented opportunities to train more effectively alongside the existing training materials and arrangements (training slides, hands-on sessions, etc.). Compared to the available general manikins (e.g. for airway simulation), the 3D printed manikins targeted the crucial anatomies specifically for the respiratory swab collection.
Previously considered as a black box, the 3D printed manikins provided these training enhancements:
- Observation of the nasal, mouth, and throat internal structures which are otherwise not possible with a real person being swabbed.
- Enabling the trainers to demonstrate the procedures clearly and highlight special cautions to ensure safer execution of swab collection, using standard medical-grade swabs.
- Encouragement of interactions between the trainers and trainees by referring to the same tangible 3D printed manikin.
Feedback from users was promising with many impressed by the bounceable tongue for simulation with a tongue depressor, and the crucial anatomies (e.g. turbinates, pharynx, and uvula) as indicators for performing the swab collection. Most importantly, the manikins were in real-life size, perfect for standard medical-grade swab sticks to be used. Further design improvement has already started on the 3D printed medical manikin thanks to the users’ feedback.
Ultimately, this crisis has highlighted how 3D printing is capable of adapting to the needs of users in producing essentials on demand with short turnaround time.