Bismuth Infusion of ABS Enables Additive Manufacturing of Complex Radiological Phantoms and Shielding Equipment



Radiopacity is a critical property of materials that are used for a range of radiological applications, including the development of phantom devices that emulate the radiodensity of native tissues and the production of protective equipment for personnel handling radioactive materials. Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a fabrication platform that is well suited to creating complex anatomical replicas or custom labware to accomplish these radiological purposes. We created and tested multiple ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filaments infused with varied concentrations of bismuth (1.2–2.7 g/cm3), a radiopaque metal that is compatible with plastic infusion, to address the poor gamma radiation attenuation of many mainstream 3D printing materials. X-ray computed tomography (CT) experiments of these filaments indicated that a density of 1.2 g/cm3 of bismuth-infused ABS emulates bone radiopacity during X-ray CT imaging on preclinical and clinical scanners. ABS-bismuth filaments along with ABS were 3D printed to create an embedded human nasocranial anatomical phantom that mimicked radiological properties of native bone and soft tissue. Increasing the bismuth content in the filaments to 2.7 g/cm3 created a stable material that could attenuate 50% of 99mTechnetium gamma emission when printed with a 2.0 mm wall thickness. A shielded test tube rack was printed to attenuate source radiation as a protective measure for lab personnel. We demonstrated the utility of novel filaments to serve multiple radiological purposes, including the creation of anthropomorphic phantoms and safety labware, by tuning the level of radiation attenuation through material customization.


Attribute NameValues
  • Justin Ceh

  • Tom Youd

  • Zach Mastrovich

  • Cody Peterson

  • Sarah Khan

  • Todd A. Sasser

  • Ian M. Sander

  • Justin Doney

  • Clark Turner

  • W. Matthew Leevy

Publication Date
  • 2017

Date Created
  • 2018-08-23

  • English

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Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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