The last news that made me pinch myself for a moment happens to be related to 3D printing, and it involves the United States Military. They are in discussions with the University of Nevada to create “virtual’ copies of their soldiers. These copies would be created via x-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds, and encompass a soldier’s entire body in 3-dimensions.
This team of experts are already using virtual operating tables, which are manufactured by a company called Anatomage. These tables are basically virtual cadavers, which students and medical personnel can use to practice dissecting the human body with. Currently these machines are being used to allow students as well as professionals to dissect the human body without the need for a real human body.
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in San Jose, Dr. James Mah, clinical professor at the University of Nevada, spoke of how this technology could be used in conjunction with 3D printing to allow the military to create virtual replicas of each solder, as a “backup” of sorts in case of injury or loss of a limb.
“The idea is to image someone when they are in a healthy state so that the data is available if it’s needed at a later point,” explained Mah. “We have soldiers who get injured. They lose limbs and other tissues and it’s a challenge to reconstruct them in the field. but if they are imaged beforehand, you can send that over the internet and have a 3D printer in the field to produce the bone”. … (read more)