Integrated 3D Imaging and Printing System
Globally, 4 million people per year die prematurely from chronic respiratory disease. The development of effective treatments for respiratory disease is greatly hampered by a lack of understanding of the gas exchange and fluid (gas)-structure (tissue) interaction (FSI) in the lungs. An interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Tao Xing, Associate Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Director of the University 3D Imaging and Printing Laboratory located in the Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC 221), aims to achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms of lung ventilation. This goal depends on proper function at each anatomical level of the lung, from the macroscale conducting zone (buccal cavity, upper airway; trachea, bronchi and early generation bronchioles) to the microscale respiratory zone (middle and late generation bronchioles, alveolar sacs and alveoli) where gas exchange occurs in the alveolar sacs.
This team will achieve its goal through a multiscale interdisciplinary research effort that includes numerical simulations at all scales and experimental studies of FSI at each anatomical level of the lung. With a recent $252,542 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $250,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Dr. Xing’s team has established a state-of-the-art laboratory that includes an integrated 3D imaging and printing system, consisting of a high-resolution imaging SkyScan 1275 3D Micro-Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner, a Stratasys J850 Pro 3D printer that can print both rigid and flexible materials and a Dell Precision Workstation with a graphics processing unit (GPU) that connects them. Hospital chest CT scans usually resolve large airways whereas the scanner resolves small airways. A combination of both creates a high-resolution lung geometry that can be used in FSI simulations and 3D printing. The printed model will allow in-vitro experimental measurement and/or physiological simulation of lung function including the use of flexible materials to accurately mimic lung compliance, which is important to validate the simulation models.
“High-fidelity numerical simulations and experimental measurements will allow us to address many limitations in prior studies such as low-resolution geometry, omission of geometry deformation, and lack of experimental data. It will also allow us to rigorously control errors and uncertainties in our simulations and experiments, which is a key to ensuring the quality of the research data,” said Dr. Tao Xing, who is also an Associate Editor of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification. The integrated system will also allow for advanced research in many other topics, such as cerebrospinal fluid drug delivery, aneurysm treatment methods, and the mechanical properties of biological tissues.