Scientists at the University of Western Ontario have developed a 3D-printed stethoscope. The device costs just $3 to produce and takes less than three hours to print, but maintains the acoustic quality of more expensive stethoscopes. The researchers hope that the device could be useful in low-resource settings, where medical equipment is scarce.
The inspiration for the printed stethoscope came when one of the researchers noticed that a toy stethoscope demonstrated reasonable sound quality. This inspired the research team to try to produce a low-cost stethoscope using recycled plastic and a 3D printer. The result is a low-cost device, which takes less than three hours to produce on a commonly available printer.
In this latest study, the researchers clinically validated the acoustic quality and clinical utility of the stethoscope. “We wanted physicians to have something that was high quality,” said Tarek Loubani.