Research Papers

Assessment of 11 Available Materials With Custom Three-Dimensional-Printing Patterns for the Simulation of Muscle, Fat, and Lung Hounsfield Units in Patient-Specific Phantoms

[+] Author and Article Information
Nikiforos Okkalidis

Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics,
University of Malta,
Msida MSD2080, Malta
e-mail: nikiforos_ok@hotmail.com

Chrysoula Chatzigeorgiou

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
e-mail: chrysa.chatzig@gmail.com

Demetrios Okkalides

Medical Physics Department,
Faculty of Health Sciences,
University of Malta,
Msida MSD2080, Malta
e-mail: demetrios.okkalides@um.edu.mt

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received September 18, 2017; final manuscript received October 15, 2017; published online November 7, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Lijie Grace Zhang.

ASME J of Medical Diagnostics 1(1), 011003 (Nov 07, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: JESMDT-17-2040; doi: 10.1115/1.4038228 History: Received September 18, 2017; Revised October 15, 2017

A couple of fused deposition modeling (FDM) three-dimensional (3D) printers using variable infill density patterns were employed to simulate human muscle, fat, and lung tissue as it is represented by Hounsfield units (HUs) in computer tomography (CT) scans. Eleven different commercial plastic filaments were assessed by measuring their mean HU on CT images of small cubes printed with different patterns. The HU values were proportional to the mean effective density of the cubes. Polylactic acid (PLA) filaments were chosen. They had good printing characteristics and acceptable HU. Such filaments obtained from two different vendors were then tested by printing two sets of cubes comprising 10 and 6 cubes with 100% to 20% and 100% to 50% infill densities, respectively. They were printed with different printing patterns named “Regular” and “Bricks,” respectively. It was found that the HU values measured on the CT images of the 3D-printed cubes were proportional to the infill density with slight differences between vendors and printers. The Regular pattern with infill densities of about 30%, 90%, and 100% were found to produce HUs equivalent to lung, fat, and muscle. This was confirmed with histograms of the respective region of interest (ROI). The assessment of popular 3D-printing materials resulted in the choice of PLA, which together with the proposed technique was found suitable for the adequate simulation of the muscle, fat, and lung HU in printed patient-specific phantoms.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Inglis, S. , 2016, “ 3D Printing in Healthcare (NHS & Healthcare Sciences),” IPEM Scope, 10, pp. 21–33.
Gear, J. I. , Long, C. , Rushforth, D. , Chittenden, S. J. , Cummings, C. , and Flux, G. D. , 2014, “ Development of Patient-Specific Molecular Imaging Phantoms Using a 3D Printer,” Med. Phys., 41(8), p. 082502. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Rulon, M. , Peter, L. , Andrew, T. , Minglei, K. , Liyong, L. , and Charles, B. S., II , 2015, “ 3D Printer Generated Thorax Phantom With Mobile Tumor for Radiation Dosimetry,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., 86(7), p. 074301. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Gear, J. I. , Cummings, C. , Craig, A. J. , Divoli, A. , Long, C. D. C. , Tapner, M. , and Flux, G. D. , 2016, “ Abdo-Man: A 3D-Printed Anthropomorphic Phantom for Validating Quantitative SIRT,” EJNMMI Phys., 3, p. 17. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Robinson, A. P. , Tipping, J. , Cullen, D. M. , Hamilton, D. , Brown, R. , Flynn, A. , Oldfield, C. , Page, E. , Price, E. , Smith, A. , and Snee, R. , 2016, “ Organ-Specific SPECT Activity Calibration Using 3D Printed Phantoms for Molecular Radiotherapy Dosimetry,” EJNMMI Phys., 3, p. 12. https://ejnmmiphys.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40658-016-0148-1 [PubMed]
Woliner-van der Weg, W. , Deden, L. N. , Meeuwis, A. P. W. , Koenrades, M. , Peeters, L. H. C. , Kuipers, H. , Laanstra, G. J. , Gotthardt, M. , Slump, C. H. , and Visser, E. P. , 2016, “ A 3D-Printed Anatomical Pancreas and Kidney Phantom for Optimizing SPECT/CT Reconstruction Settings in Beta Cell Imaging Using 111In-Exendin,” EJNMMI Phys., 3, p. 29. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Ehler, E. D. , Barney, B. M. , Higgins, P. D. , and Dusenbery, K. E. , 2014, “ Patient Specific 3D Printed Phantom for IMRT Quality Assurance,” Phys. Med. Biol., 59(19), pp. 5763–5773. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Shin, T. , Ukimura, O. , and Gill, I. S. , 2016, “ Three-Dimensional Printed Model of Prostate Anatomy and Targeted Biopsy-Proven Index Tumor to Facilitate Nerve-Sparing Prostatectomy,” Eur. Urology, 69(2), pp. 376–380. [CrossRef]
Bieniosek, M. F. , Lee, B. J. , and Levin, C. S. , 2015, “ Characterization of Custom 3D Printed Multimodality Imaging Phantoms,” Med. Phys., 42(10), pp. 5913–5918.
Madamesila, J. , McGeachy, P. , Barajas, J. E. V. , and Khan, R. , 2016, “ Characterizing 3D Printing in the Fabrication of Variable Density Phantoms for Quality Assurance of Radiotherapy,” Phys. Medica, 32(1), pp. 242–247. [CrossRef]
Kairn, T. , Crowe, S. B. , and Markwell, T. , 2015, “ Use of 3D Printed Materials as Tissue-Equivalent Phantoms,” World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Toronto, ON, Canada, June 7–12, pp. 728–731.
ALL3DP, 2017, “ Catalogue of Available Filaments,” All3DP GmbH, München, Germany, accessed Oct. 23, 2017, https://all3dp.com/best-3d-printer-filament-types-pla-abs-pet-exotic-wood-metal/
Alssabbagha, M. , Tajuddina, A. A. , Abdulmanapa, M. , and Zainona, R. , 2017, “ Evaluation of 3D Printing Materials for Fabrication of a Novel Multifunctional 3D Thyroid Phantom for Medical Dosimetry and Image Quality,” Radiat. Phys. Chem., 135, pp. 106–112. [CrossRef]
Kim, M. J. , Lee, S. R. , Lee, M. Y. , Sohn, J. W. , Yun, H. G. , Choi, J. Y. , Jeon, S. W. , and Suh, T. S. , 2017, “ Characterization of 3D Printing Techniques: Toward Patient Specific Quality Assurance Spine-Shaped Phantom for Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy,” PLoS One, 12(5), pp. 1–12.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Preview images simulate 3D printing with 100% infill density: (a) regular, (b) Bricks A, (c) Bricks W, and (d) Bricks WT. CT scanned images appear below.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Anonymized chest images of a real patient CT scan were acquired (a). The images were used to construct a reduced scale 3D model phantom made by Printer N and PLA2. This printed phantom was also CT scanned and slices at the same Z positions appear in (b) for comparison. Both sets are presented in a lung window.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Variation of HUs measured with a ROI on CT images against infill density. The 30 × 30 × 30 mm cubes were printed with Printer N and printing pattern Regular. The material was PLA1.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Variation of HUs measured in a ROI on the CT images of 20 × 20 × 20 mm cubes with Bricks WT design with varying infill density, CT slice thickness of 5 mm and PLA2

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Calculated mean effective density (ρe) of the cubes against the respective infill density that was used to print each of them

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Histograms of the CT images of cubes of PLA1 3D printed with the regular pattern and infill densities 30, 90, and 100%. These are compared to the histograms of CT images of actual patient organ tissues.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Variation of HUs with the mean effective density (ρe) of various printing materials. Data from Table 1.




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In