To the authors of the golden age of science fiction in the middle of the century, many of the devices and technologies that we use without a second thought rival their creations. Sure, the lofty notions of establishing habitable bases on other planets and becoming a spacefaring galactic civilisation are still just dreams. But in a few short decades we have connected the globe with an invisible network, created pocket-size devices more powerful than the Apollo lunar modules, and soon we may be able to produce usable organs from synthetic materials.

Three-dimensional printing is a technology that has received immense press attention over the last few years, partly due to the fact it is a significant advancement tech but also because it is spectacular to watch. One concept that has come about, as a result, is the idea of 3D printing organs, something that equally could have been plucked from an Isaac Asimov novella.

The potential implications of synthetic organs are huge for medical science. Without the need for a real, human organ, no longer would someone in dire need be required to wait for someone else to die in order to have a second chance at survival. Waiting times could be dramatically reduced and more people could receive transplants than right now.

Whilst the primary news focus is squarely on the 3D printing aspect of this potential new step forward in transplant technology, computer-aided design still has a pivotal role to play. Designing a 3D model of a fully functioning liver or kidney etc is elemental, and sophisticated CAD software packages are already proving to be powerful tools in the development of this sci-fi-esque treatment. Of course, with any major shift in technology and medicine, there are always bound to be challenges and risks involved. Most prominently is the issue of host rejection. As you would expect, the human body is highly unreceptive of foreign bodies or materials and this has been a long-standing risk with conventional organ transplants. But CAD is not powerless when it comes to preventing risks.

One other key aspect that makes contemporary CAD software packages is their ability to simulate conditions to see how a building or a product may cope in a potentially hazardous scenario. Mock-ups of a combustion engine for automotive use, for example, will go through many computerised simulations to make sure that the block won’t crack in high temperatures or that the exhaust manifold is as efficient in gas transfer as possible.

Each particular application has its own needs and thus its own specific tests and simulations, but with such noticeable interest from health organisations, scientific groups, and 3D fabricators, there is sure to be considerable resources put into developing CAD packages specifically for biomechanical uses. In fact, AutoDesk, the company that produces the hugely versatile AutoCAD software that we use for many of our design applications and services, have been involved in the trialling of designing and producing organs since 2015 and are continuing to work with researchers in the field.
Right now, computer-aided design shapes our everyday lives in the products we use, the buildings we spend our time in, the infrastructure of the very towns and cities we live in. But in the near future, CAD may even play a hand in actually keeping us alive for longer.

Whilst we may not be able to design a biomechanical kidney for you yet, our comprehensive CAD services cover 2D schematics, full 3D renderings for presentations, specific designs for steel fabrication, 2D to 3D conversions and many other functions. Contact us today to see how we can help your vision become a reality.

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