University of Melbourne doctors and engineers have printed 3D models for patients with heart disease. The photos are taken from a camera thinner than a human hair. Cardiologists use the data to analyze blood flood and the precise structure of the artery.

Associate Professor Peter Barlis examines a 3D printed artery.

“Using our ultrasensitive heart scans combined with models derived using supercomputers, we are now able to print out segments of the patient’s arteries and hope to tailor devices to fit them perfectly,” said Associate Professor Peter Barlis.

The images, gathered during a routine angiogram, are fed into a supercomputer. Within 24 hours, a model of a person’s artery is 3D-printed.

The technique can be used to detect "hot spots" for plaque, the waxy substance that builds up in arteries and causes heart disease.

Barlis and his team will also work to find a biocompatible polymer to 3D-print heart stents to precisely match a person’s physical makeup, reducing the risk of stent collapse or complications.