Research Foundation News

August 29, 2018

Improving the quality of medical imaging and improving diagnostics are at the heart of Bentz's work

Mice black Purdue University researchers developed a method to use 3D printers to create medical imaging phantoms. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University researchers have devised a way to use 3D printers to ensure that medical imaging techniques offer the best performance.

The Purdue researchers developed a method to use 3D printers to create optical phantoms, which are objects that are scanned or imaged to evaluate, analyze and tune the performance of imaging devices. The phantoms could be adapted for many imaging techniques.

Phantoms are more readily available and provide more consistent results than the use of a person or cadaver. Most phantoms are made using injection mold methods, which limit the shape of the phantoms to the mold geometry.

“We wanted to find a better way to create the phantoms that are used with imaging machines,” said Brian Bentz, a Purdue alumnus and Starfish Engineering LLC’s chief executive officer, who worked on the technology with Kevin Webb, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. “3D printing is fast and allows us to create complex phantoms with various shapes to ensure the best possible performance for imaging devices.”

Purdue’s technology allows developers to create phantoms with optical properties designed to match those of biological tissues, providing a better way to ensure that machines are correctly calibrated.

Hospitals are required to calibrate and test their imaging machines on a regular basis to ensure that they remain at peak performance.

“It is a great feeling to take our engineering expertise and combine that with technology to potentially help patients suffering from many different kinds of diseases,” Bentz said.        

The researchers worked with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization on a patent for the technology. 

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.         

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341,

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