3D Printing and Maker Resources for NYU Langone Nursing Students

By Victoria Lubas | October 11, 2019

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NYU Langone’s Lapidus Health Sciences Library Offers Tools for Innovation and Learning

The field of nursing requires active, hands-on interactions with patients, which frequently call for new solutions to unique challenges. NYU Langone’s Sid and Ruth Lapidus Health Sciences Library, one of many NYU health science and medical libraries, reopened its doors in 2016 after recovering from Hurricane Sandy. This refreshed addition to NYU Langone is stocked with digital medical resources, a computer lab, and the 3D Printing Service, enabling students and providers to get creative with their studies and gain practical experience.

The 3D Printing Service focuses on 3D printing in relation to medicine, both in the classroom and in practice. Chair of the Medical Library and director of the Lapidus Health Sciences Library, Jeffrey Williams, said of the service’s leader, Patrick Whelan, “as Patrick is an [NYU Medical Center Information Technology] MCIT employee assigned to the Library, NYU Langone’s IT community should take pride in their direct support of this important and successful service.” The 3D Printing Service currently consists of three 3D printers: an Ultimaker 3 Extended, an Ultimaker S5, and a Formlabs Form 2 resin printer. The Ultimakers print large-scale projects using filament, while the Form 2 uses resin and a smaller build volume of five cubic inches to create very fine details with a smooth finish.

Ashley Curran, branch manager of the Lapidus Health Sciences Library, believes that “nurses are natural makers,” so the Library established the Nurse MakerLab, a new creative space that is separate from the 3D Printing Service. Curran calls the MakerLab “a prototyping space for nurses to come and innovate.” The MakerLab is a portable workstation supporting the “push in nursing for innovation and technology.” It provides nursing students with access to a wide range of supplies, such as a sewing machine, a Cricut Maker, a PCB milling machine, and soldering supplies.

Finger Pen Holder

Finger Pen Holder: Designed to minimize the precision needed when patients bend and flex their fingers to write.

3D Printing Research Materials

A main focus of the 3D Printing Service is printing realistic models of human anatomical parts for educational and research purposes. Based off an MRI scan, Perception and Brain Dynamic Laboratory research assistant Max Levinson designed a 3D model of a human brain. Using the Ultimaker 3 Extended printer, the intricate design took a total of five days to print. Whelan explained that this “brain [was] printed for a research lab to research the accuracy of MRI methods.” Whelan’s team also printed an accurate model of a human spine for a resident’s thesis, which took a total of seven hours. Whelan said the Service also “printed a life-size human foot from a CT scan for use in a workshop on diabetic foot care,” and printed three fibula models with varying densities for a surgical education simulation studying the removal of fibula bone matter for use in jaw reconstruction.

Most recently, the Service used a CT scan to print a skull for the second-year medical course, Living Anatomy: Head and Neck. Course instructor Kristen Ramirez explained that in class, the printed skull was used to give students a closer look at “anatomical spaces” in the skull where the brain sends signals to the head and neck. “The very top of the skull (calvarium) was removed in virtual reality using Medium, a digital sculpting tool, to show all the holes (foramina) in the base of the skull…Students then were able to trace the path of nerves and arteries as they enter that space from three directions, and leave through four other openings.”

In addition, the 3D Printing Service doesn’t just recreate life-size body parts. Using the Service’s resources and Ultimaker S5 printer, Shohei Koide, PhD, enlarged a model of a molecular oncogenic protein for a project with the Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology department.

3D printed skull for Living Anatomy

3D printed skull for Living Anatomy: Head and Neck, giving students a closer look at “anatomical spaces” in the skull.

3D Printing Occupational Therapy Solutions

The 3D Printing Service also has an impact on the practical and patient-centered side of medicine. In addition to products made to better understand and study the human body, Whelan’s team has worked with the Rusk Rehabilitation Center on several occasions to print adaptive tools for people with disabilities.

One such project is the Adaptive Cup Holder, which features an open-bottomed, arching handle instead of a typical semi-circle. This cup is meant to eliminate the difficulty certain patients can face when holding traditional mugs. Another notable project completed with Rusk is the Finger Pen Holder. A patient using the pen holder would put the tips of their first two fingers into one side of the print, and snap a pen into the other side to minimize the precision needed when patients bend and flex their fingers to write.

In addition to educational and patient-specific projects, the 3D Printing Service often creates unique tools needed for research labs, such as a vice that holds 13-intricately-fitting parts together.

3D-printed model of a molecular oncogenic protein

Shohei Koide’s 3D-printed model of a molecular oncogenic protein.

What’s Next

Currently, the Nurse MakerLab, like the 3D Printing Service, is “intended for education but really for nurses to make prototypes to aid at [patients’] bedside, work around with, [and] experiment. …[It is] intended to help improve or invent [solutions].” Unlike the Nurse MakerLab, which is offered primarily to NYU Langone Health nurses, the 3D Printing Service’s resources are available to the larger NYU Langone Health community. As the Nurse MakerLab and 3D Printing Service continue to update their supplies and adopt evolving equipment, Curran and Whelan are brainstorming ways to open these services to the greater NYU Langone community.