A blood recycling machine, manufactured almost entirely using Stratsys 3D printed parts, has successfully undergone patient trials and can be used to help patients undergo open heart surgery – and it upholds religious beliefs.

The new Hemosep blood recycling machine was developed by Brigthwake using a Stratasys’ Dimension 1200es 3D printer.

The Hemosep recovers blood spilled during open heart and major trauma surgery, concentrating the blood cells ready for transfusion back into the patient. This process, known as auto transfusion, reduces the volume of donor blood required and the problems associated with transfusion reaction.

The prototype device features a number of Stratasys 3D printed parts, including the main filtration and cooling systems, enabling the Brightwake team to functionally test the system in its intended environment, before the final device is produced from metal.

The device has been awarded the CE mark and is attracting global interest from distributors and healthcare providers.

“The Hemosep consists of a bag that uses chemical sponge technology and a mechanical agitator to concentrate blood sucked from a surgical site or drained from a heart-lung machine after surgery,” says Steve Cotton, Brightwake’s director of R&D.

“The cells are then returned to the patient via blood transfusion. In a climate of blood shortage, this recycling methodology has the potential to be a game-changer within the medical industry, saving the National Health Service millions.”

Successful clinical trials of over100 open-heart surgery operations in Turkey confirmed the Hemosep’s ability to significantly reduce the need for blood transfusions, and further trials are now continuing in the UK.

One of the first patients to benefit from the new Hemosep device is 50-year-old UK heart patient Julie Penoyer, who, as a Jehovah’s Witness, requested not to receive donated blood products. Because the device captures, cleans and returns lost blood lost during an operation, Hemosep was a good solution for her.

For Brightwake, with medical device production demanding extremely accurate parts, capable of enduring the stress of functional and safety tests, the company’s use of 3D printing has presented significant cost- and time-saving benefits.

“Previously we had to outsource the production of these parts which took around three weeks per part,” explains Cotton. “Now we’re 3D printing superior strength parts overnight, cutting our prototyping costs by 96% and saving more than £1 000 for each 3D printed model.