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Open Source 3D Printed Stethoscope Outperforms $200 Design

3D Printed Stethoscope

A doctor in the Gaza Strip had developed a cheap but fully functional 3d printed stethoscope, outperforming expensive proprietary solutions.

3D printed stethoscopeThe humble stethoscope is an important part of any doctor’s toolbox. It’s a widely recognized symbol of medical care, and a crucial piece of equipment for checking and monitoring a patient’s vital signs.

But quality stethoscopes require high quality membrane materials, durable soft capsules for the ear buds, and a rigid body made of stainless steel that can resonate sound waves with minimal loss and distortion. All this can cost a lot of money, and doctors in third world countries can find it hard to acquire a good stethoscope (even on a doctor’s salary).

Additive manufacturing comes to the rescue with an ultra-cheap 3D printed stethoscope that only costs about 30 cents to make. According to a news story on The Register, this stethoscope’s acoustic performance is equivalent to a stethoscope that costs $200 when compared to officially accepted benchmarks.

This particular product was developed in the Gaza strip, today one of the most difficult parts of the world to obtain medical supplies because of military embargoes and blockades. Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician working in the Gaza strip, has released the design under open source license for doctors around the world, so they can test the design further and benefit from its use. He and his colleagues now hope to develop other low-cost medical equipment such as pulse oximeters, electrocardiogram systems, and heamodialysis machines.

All this may sound like science fiction, but there always have been people who have the passion, motive, knowledge and professional ethics to seek these goals. The availability of affordable 3D printing technology, combined with open source, has paved the way to this new form of distributed manufacturing. It has proven ideal for the public health sector, freeing it from proprietary product limitations and boundaries. (via popularmechanics.com)