Bioinspired Heart Valve Prosthesis and Cellular Scaffolds by Silicone 3D Printing – Presented by Fergal Coulter, ETH Zurich – Complex Materials

Bioinspired Heart Valve Prosthesis and Cellular Scaffolds by Silicone 3D Printing – Presented by Fergal Coulter, ETH Zurich – Complex Materials, at the 3D Medical Conference, which takes place on January 30-31, 2019, at MECC Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Artificial heart valves are highly demanded medical devices, but suffer from inferior performance compared to their biological counterparts. To tackle the poor longevity and hemodynamic behavior of many synthetic valves, an additive manufacturing platform was developed that enables the fabrication of polymer heart valves that are customizable to the patient and feature unique biologically-inspired leaflet designs.

Exploiting the shaping freedom of additive manufacturing, the synthetic valves are customized using geometries tailored to fit the anatomy of the patient. The architecture of the leaflet is designed to mimic the fiber reinforcement found in a natural valve.

Our approach reduces significantly the stresses developed on the leaflet during a simulated cardiac cycle, while fulfilling the hemodynamic performance required for commercial heart valves.

In a separate strand of research, a technique which encourages both cellular on-growth and tissue in-growth into 3D printed Silicone devices is discussed.

By printing porous structures at multiple length scales (With pores larger than 1mm and less than 10µm),we find it is possible to passively encourage vascularisation around the surface of a medical device or in to a cellular scaffold using surface topology alone, without the use of biochemical factors.

What drives you?
Designing and building devices with potential to improve a persons quality of life

What are the three things you would take with you on a deserted island?
A Boat, an axe and a concave mirror

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Crispr and Bio-printing

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Crispr is pretty amazing technology right now, with potential to either revolutionize or destroy society! Bio-printing will become great when researchers manage to fully control stem-cell differentiation.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
I think the design and printing of true 3D scaffolds which encourage vascularisation hasn’t been developed to a satisfactory level yet.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
If interested in novel multi-axis (non-planar) 3D printing techniques utilizing multiple hardness implant grade silicones.

About Fergal Coulter
Fergal Coulter is Research Fellow, ETH Zurich & University College Dublin. Fergal completed his PhD in Nottingham in 2015, with a thesis entitled Additive Manufacturing method for Cardiac Assist Device.

Here he developed a 4 Axis 3D printer which could fabricate inflatable 4D structures from silicone, to act as artificial muscles in a heart pump.

Following that he took up a joint post doc in Dublin and Zurich, working on 3D printing cellular encapsulation devices for type I Diabetes, and also a patient specific aortic heart valves.

It is these two research strands that he will be presenting at the conference. 

About ETH Zurich
Situated in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, ETH Zurich is pioneering solutions to the global challenges of today and tomorrow. It has more than 20,000 students from over 120 different countries.

For more information about 3D Medical Conference & Expo and registration, please visit

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