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Producing small animal bone replicas using 3D printers: does cost affect quality?

J. A. Cone, T. M. Martin, D. J. Marcellin-Little, O. L. A. Harryson, E. H. Griffith

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is increasingly being used to produce polymer bone replicas that can be used to enhance the management of orthopaedic problems in companion animals. Historically the cost of producing bone replicas was high, but recently a new generation of low-end (office-based) polymer 3D printers have become commercially available, reducing the cost of producing replicas.

This study aimed to compare the accuracy and repeatability of commercially available high-end and low-end 3D printers in producing these polymers.

Polymer replicas of three bones (a cat femur, dog radius and dog tibia) were reconstructed in triplicate from CT images by each of four printers (two high-end and two-low end printers). One high-end system relied on the jetting of curable liquid photopolymer and the other relied on polymer extrusion; for the low-end sytems, one used a triple-nozzle polymer extrusion system and the other a dual-nozzle polymer extrusion system. The polymer bone replicas were then scanned and measured using a laser and the measurements …

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