RAPID use of optimised CT scans for 3D printing: Helping combat COVID 19

The National Imaging Facility’s PET/CT in the Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit (University of Melbourne node) has long been used to acquire optimised CT scans of objects suitable for 3D printed reproduction.  Of late, this has been repurposed for a more urgent need in preparedness for COVID-19.

Laser scanning is the standard way of reproducing objects for 3D printing, as it is readily available.  It has shortcomings, however, as it cannot be used to see the internal structure of objects; in particular, objects that have enclosures or voids cannot be reproduced properly.

Standard CT scanning can be used to acquire the structure of objects, but scans produced from micro-CT or clinically setup scanners often produce artefacts that require many hours of post processing.

At the MBCIU, we have optimised our acquisition, reconstruction and processing to produce very high quality 3D printing files within minutes.  This is best demonstrated by an example of scanning a respirator part: After receiving the request at 13:30 on a recent Saturday, we picked up a medical device part from a clinical site, scanned and exported a 3D file by 17:30. By the next day, our design collaborators in the Department of Biomedical Engineering had used the files to produce three designs of an interlocking attachment to make a respirator safe to use and quick to clean. By Monday morning, two of the three solutions had been printed and were being tested by collaborating anaethetists.  By Tuesday, all three solutions had been tested and the preferred device was in production.