Scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a new ultrasound device to produce sharper medical images using 3D printed lenses.
Equipped with superior resin lenses that have been 3D printed, the clearer images are expected to enable doctors and surgeons to exercise greater control and precision while performing non-invasive diagnostic procedures and medical surgeries.
Firing sound waves at a glass surface or lens triggers ultrasound waves, the resultant heat causes the lens to expand rapidly generating high-frequency vibrations that produce ultrasound waves in conventional device.
However, with lenses that are 3D printed, the new ultrasound device is not restricted to limitations of glass.
The 3D printing helps creating complex lens shapes which results in sharper images, it also allows ultrasound waves to be focussed at multiple sites or fixes the focus on a target.
NTU associate professor Claus-Dieter Ohl said: “3D printing reinvents the manufacturing process, enabling the creation of unique and complex devices. In turn, the way medical devices are created needs to be rethought.”
The new device will pave the way for accurate medical procedures which use ultrasound to kill tumours, loosen blood clots and deliver drugs into targeted cells.
Ohl added: “In most medical surgeries, precision and non-invasive diagnosis methods are crucial.
“This novel device not only determines the focus of the wave but also its shape, granting greater accuracy and control to medical practitioners.”
Image: NTU scientists design ultrasound device with 3D printed lenses. Photo: courtesy of NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY.