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Towards using a multi-material, pellet-fed additive manufacturing platform to fabricate novel imaging phantoms

Franck Lacan, Richard Johnston Orcid Logo, Rhys Carrington, Emiliano Spezi, Peter Theobald Orcid Logo

Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, Volume: 47, Issue: 3, Pages: 189 - 196

Swansea University Author: Richard Johnston Orcid Logo

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Abstract

The design freedom afforded by additive manufacturing (AM) is now being leveraged across multiple applications, including many in the fields of imaging for personalised medicine. This study utilises a pellet-fed, multi-material AM machine as a route to fabricating new imaging phantoms, used for deve...

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Published in: Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology
ISSN: 0309-1902 1464-522X
Published: Informa UK Limited 2023
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa62973
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Abstract: The design freedom afforded by additive manufacturing (AM) is now being leveraged across multiple applications, including many in the fields of imaging for personalised medicine. This study utilises a pellet-fed, multi-material AM machine as a route to fabricating new imaging phantoms, used for developing and refining algorithms for the detection of subtle soft tissue anomalies. Traditionally comprising homogeneous materials, higher resolution scanning now allows for heterogeneous, multi-material phantoms. Polylactic acid (PLA), a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) and a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) were investigated as potential materials. Manufacturing accuracy and precision was assessed relative to the digital design file, whilst potential to achieve structural heterogeneity was evaluated by quantifying infill density via micro-computer tomography. Hounsfield units (HU) were also captured via a clinical scanner. The PLA builds were consistently too small, by 0.2 – 0.3%. Conversely, TPE parts were consistently larger than the digital file, though by only 0.1%. The TPU components had negligible difference relative to the specified sizes. The accuracy and precision of material infill was inferior, with PLA exhibiting greater and lower densities relative to the digital file, across the 3 builds. Both TPU and TPE produced infills that were too dense. The PLA material produced repeatable HU values, with poorer precision across TPU and TPE. All HU values tended towards, and some exceeded, the reference value for water (0 HU) with increasing infill density. These data have demonstrated that pellet-fed AM can produce accurate and precise structures, with the potential to include multiple materials providing opportunity for more realistic and advanced phantom designs. In doing so, this will enable clinical scientists to develop more sensitive applications aimed at detecting ever more subtle variations in tissue, confident that their calibration models reflect their intended designs.
Keywords: Precision medicine, Imaging phantom, Multi-material deposition, Accuracy, Image registration
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: The microCT work was supported by the Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) core facility (EPSRC Grant No. EP/M028267/1), the Welsh Government Enhancing Competitiveness Grant (MA/KW/5554/19), and the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government.
Issue: 3
Start Page: 189
End Page: 196