The Softer Side of 3D Printing

Published 06/29/2015

Kim Kennedy | Business Development/Inside Sales

Few things can make the eyes of this mom of a teenage boy mist up more than any reference or memory of seeing and holding my son for the first time as an infant – but this recent feature about a young, blind mother “seeing” her son’s ultrasound image for the first time as a 3D printed sculpture absolutely did. 

3D Printed UltrasoundHuggies – Brazil ran a recent ad campaign that highlights a 30 year mom-to-be in Brazil who has been blind since the age of 17.  Tatiana Guerra was having a routine 20 week ultrasound performed of her baby boy, Murilo.  During the procedure, the doctor had the ultrasound image transformed into a 3D printed model for the young mother to visually “see” her son for the first time - in utero with her fingertips from a mobile printing station within 15 minutes from the start of the exam.  Feeling each dip of his eyes and subtle hills of his chin and nose, she was able to experience what a lot of moms can see by just looking at the ultrasound screen of their child’s movements and observing their beginning features in real time.  By having this technology, mom met her child during the earliest stages of his life, affording a precious opportunity not previously available. You can watch the video here!

While my first experience with 3D printing was not quite as poignant, I can share that in the early 2000’s while vacationing at a popular theme park with my then 3 year old son, we checked out a storefront on their Main Street that would take an facial image of your child and create a framed, 3D relief which now proudly hangs in my home.  This new form of memorabilia is a bit more of a modern take on the traditional black silhouette cut-outs that our own parents have hanging in their hallways.

3D Printed FootprintProud new parents can also now opt to have those important first footprint and handprint inked images from the hospital made into a 3D model suitable for framing.  The stamped impression of the infant’s hand or footprint is scanned and software is used to clean up the image by removing the irregularities as well as clarifying and darkening the picture to facilitate the conversion from 2D to a 3D printable file.   Once printed, color can be added (blue or pink?) and the memento is complete to add to the nursery decor.

These are just a few examples of how 3D printing brings not just the commercial turbines, machinery and engines ideas from concept to fruition, but the softer more personal aspects as well.


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