If you’ve ever happened to watch an episode or two of Cinemax’s The Knick, you’d know of the great lengths of detail that the Fractured FX team goes to in order to replicate realistic looking medical practices based in the early 1900s. The Fractured FX team implemented every possible characteristic into their surgically realistic special effects and, it turns out, that the 3D printed mannequins are of such high quality that physicians at the Boston Children’s Hospital are using the special effect company’s models to prepare for intensive surgery.
Factured FX and the hospital began discussing the possibility of creating realistic pediatric models to help deal with delicate surgeries on infants and children. The special effects team had been utilizing 3D printing for their gory productions, such as The Knick and American Horror Story, and, so, they were able to successfully manufacture two models, thus far, to help physicians prepare. “A lot of us had aspirations in medicine, and have collaborated with prosthesiologists to help improve prosthetics artistically,” says Fractured FX CEO Justin Raleigh. “We wanted to take our skills in special effects to try and help people.”
One is a 3D printed model of a neck and upper chest, which will help with practicing heart and lung surgeries. It is printed with replicated blood vessels, the vagus nerve, and realistic skin that gives the operator the feeling of a real surgery. The second model is meant to help prepare for a procedure called an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), which works to remove tumors and excess fluid from the brain. But still, the Fractured FX team had to go above and beyond with this project in order to satisfy the needs of the Boston Children’s Hospital. “We’ve had to come up with new techniques to develop the elements you’d see in surgery, something we never had to do for film,” says Raleigh.
The Fractured FX team took detailed drawings of these models and acquired knowledge from medical professionals in order engineer, design, and 3D print these advanced pediatric surgery models. After much experimentation and work to make these models appear and function like parts of an actual human subject, the replicated human anatomy is reinforced into the model and ready to be surgically operated on. All in all, it seems as though this collaboration between the entertainment and medical industries will help broaden the horizons for both sides of this partnership.
“We’ve been getting a crash course in surgery, and the SIMPeds engineers have come to our studio to learn about manufacturing techniques and how we process materials and make molds,” adds Raleigh. “It’s been very educational in both directions.”