3D Printing The SynDaver Open-Source Healthcare Mannequin Leave a comment


As desktop 3D printers become more robust, reliable, and feature-rich, we are seeing a definite shift in professional use-cases from prototyping to producing final products.

Healthcare simulation is a highly targeted and rapidly growing industry. Medical simulators are used as surrogates by doctors, nurses, and veterinarians to practice complex life-saving procedures in a low-risk environment while replicating the same degree of stress as the real world.  Being able to hone medical skills with life-like replicas of infants, children, adults, and even animals can literally make the difference between life and death outcomes in an emergency.

SAMM provides the most advanced airway for intubation practice

Often the ability to work on real cadaver – when you can get one – is limited.  With high-end models (like the one featured in Mythbusters and Shark Tank) everything is the right color, in the right place, and has the accurate molecular weight and tactile feel.  You can do the same procedure ten times over with no loss of fidelity or realism, and no harm to real bodies. Lifelike medical models like these can cost over $100,000. But what if you can’t afford the price tag, just need some basic functionality, or can’t find one in the specific size or gender you need?

Enter SynDaver – a current leader in manufacturing synthetic humans and animals for training in schools, hospitals, and military bases.  They recently released their SynDaver Advanced Modular Mannequin (SAMM), which is the only fully customizable, open-source, 3D printed simulator in the world. For the introductory price of only $9998, you get a life-sized 3D printed mannequin, a desktop 3D printer, and license for ZBrush CAD software.

SAMM has Automatic Respiration Sounds, and is Upgradable

SAMM has Automatic Respiration Sounds, and is Upgradable

Kevin King, recently named Vice President of Global Marketing for SynDaver, has put many prior years into an ambulance career as a paramedic, and therefore understands first-hand how much of an impact SAMM can make.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about improving patient safety by having providers be more educated, which is really a noble pursuit,“ explains King. “With SAMM we are continuing the evolution of impacting patient lives by offering a training solution that is affordable and accessible.”  

SAMMs abdomanal cavity contains the mechanics for the respiration system

SAMMs abdominal cavity contains the mechanics for the respiration system

The idea originated from customer demand for a more customizable simulation experience.

The vision is for users to be able to download and print their own replacement parts, and also use CAD design to improve upon the existing modules and create new pieces specifically for their own use-cases. Soon there will be an open SynDaver community where users can upload their designs and share them with others – effectively creating a library of modular solutions to handle any simulation challenge.  

Claire Hobson, an engineer at SynDaver, helped to design the existing modular components with a team of other engineers.  She was a business major with a background in game design and 3D printing who became interested in this field after an internship in medical simulation.

SAMM is not just a simulator to teach function, but avenue for anyone to get involved,” she explains. “It bridges any barriers of targeting users since they can make it into anything they want.  There are no limits to letting your imagination run wild and turning it into whatever you need.”

Close Up of the 3D Printed Hip Joint on SAMM

Close Up of the 3D Printed Hip Joint on SAMM

SAMM’s features include the most realistic and accurate soft tissue airway on the market, spontaneous user-controlled chest rise and fall to simulate breathing, CPR capability with user feedback, automated pulses at the carotid, radial, and pedal pulse points utilizing fluid to generate the pulses, interchangeable genitalia that allows for catheterization, IV capability, and much more.

The 3D printed components are produced on a Lulzbot Taz 6 with MatterHackers PLA filament.  The chest piece alone can take 55 hours to print!

“My career in 3D printing began when I purchased a Prusa i3 DIY kit for an independent study in college. My curiosity for 3D printing eventually evolved into a career!” says Hobson. “At SynDaver we believe that if you can dream it, you can design and build it.  3D printing has made, and continues to make, the dream-to-reality concept accessible to everyone, as it is now more available and affordable than ever.”

SAMM Intubation Practice Live on the Show Floor

SAMM Intubation Practice Live on the Show Floor

3D printing provides a significant cost-savings over silicone, allowing SynDaver to offer SAMM at a reasonable price point for anyone on the spectrum of patient care.  You are only paying for the functionality you need, and you can recreate hands, limbs, and other parts on your own 3D printer in the same material using the same production tools that they use in production.  

“The medical industry will continue to incorporate FDM 3D printing into the workflow from prototyping to final production,” says Hobson. “There are also endless possibilities in bioprinting to create living tissues. We can’t even fathom where this technology is going to lead us. The sky is really the limit!”

3D printing is truly making everything accessible and customizable.  Providing access to healthcare simulation technology in order to train practitioners to save lives in remote disaster areas, developing nations and hospitals where it was previously out of reach really is a noble pursuit.  We can’t wait to see what the SynDaver user community comes up with to modify and improve upon this fascinating open-source project.


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