3D Printed Fetuses, Birthmark lets you see your unborn baby

A Brazilian couple was about to have their first child. Unlike other parents, they have visual impairment and could not see any ultrasound image of their own child. When the mother was six months into her pregnancy, they decided to 3D print the baby’s face and feel its texture with their hands. The couple finally “saw” their child.

This is not a new case of 3D printing application, there was already a report on the 3D printing of a fetus back in 2012. British online parenting community Channel Mum predicted that 2016 will be the year of 3D printed fetuses. In fact this is not only happening in Japan and America, parents in Taiwan will also be able to join the fad this year, with the help of Birthmark, who 3D printed Taiwan’s first fetus model, allowing the parents to hold their child in their hands before it was even born.

Making parental love eternal with the latest technology

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This time we interviewed Dr. Pingjiang Zhang(right), CEO of Aier Technology(愛兒科技), and Jason(left), their marketing person.

This incredible gift is brought to us by Dr. Pingjiang Zhang(張平江), CEO of Aier Technology(愛兒科技), who is a gynecologist himself. It was the wish of an older mother from a few years ago that inspired him. “She was an infertile patient, who came back to me a year after the operation, asking for an ultrasound picture. Her child died of a rare disease so she wanted a picture of the child she can reminisce, but there was no record left in the clinic at all!” With 20 years of experience in treating fetuses, Dr. Zhang decided to bring back the true forms of them to their desperate mothers. After a long discussion with his software engineer friend Lwu, and it being the right timing to do 3D printing, they recruited 3D printing expert Ian into their team. Since 2013, they have been working hard and making adjustments, to be able to bring us the Birthmark today.

Speaking of 3D printing, Dr. Zhang has tried both the fused deposition modeling and the additive manufacturing methods. “Products from the former method look like masks, would you want that?” Dr. Zhang laughed and showed me a sample. “It all comes down to the question of what kind of product are you going to give to the mothers?” Aier Technology’s answer is however much a mother can see, they will make it. When it comes to her child, a mother would not want a memory that is either distorted or not enough at all, and which is why Dr. Zhang chose to be different from Japanese company FASOTEC that uses resin to make the broken, incomplete “Angelic Form,” or the American 3D Babies with their overly patched fetus models that actually look scary. “We have been struggling between realism and appearance.” Eventually, Aier Technology chose plaster as their foundation. According to Dr. Zhang, it would be like the statue of David which is made of stone, Birthmark will be just as artistic. Every “Birthmark” is going to be multiple layers of solid, with no hollow inside. It is also heavy, and feels a little rugged when you touch it, just like a new life, that is sacred , thick and pure.

Being Taiwan’s first 3D printed fetus team, Dr. Zhang admitted that Taiwanese people aren’t very open to new things like other peoples, and which is why Birthmark has a long way to go. Because Birthmark is much better in appearance and texture than other foreign models, Dr. Zhang expects it to enter the market of other nearby Asian countries. While the marketing person at Aier Technology who was also in the interview, Jason, mentioned that Birthmark can be seen in more and more clinics in Banqiao and Xinzhuang. Besides making navel seals and fetal hair brushes for their children, new parents can now choose to meet them a little earlier. Traditional parenting does not teach us to keep track of children’s growth, but things have changed today, besides the usual parenting SOP, parents are able to make their children’s experience more complete through the record of different phases in their lives, and this also fills up themselves with memories of their children.

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Technology exists to make our lives better

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Model on the right is made with resin, which Dr. Zhang says looks like a mask; model on the left is the first prototype made with plaster.

Speaking of life-related technology, Japan’s Softbank is releasing new products like social media newspaper this year. In a world where smartphones are everywhere, there are people who still can’t access the latest technology, which causes a gap between themselves and their families and friends. Most seniors are still attached to the younger generation, but are unable to connect with them. Softbank allows these seniors to keep track of their grandchildren’s whereabouts, while still reading the news in the form of traditional media.

This might seem irrelevant to Birthmark, but what the two have in common is that technology brings people closer to each other. Dr. Zhang jokingly said that he is in a love industry, and has seen quite a few great parents. There was a child with cleft lip and palate, and before he was old enough to have surgery, he would always drip water from his mouth whenever he drank water, and his mother would always have the patience to wipe his mouth for him. Dr. Zhang asked if she was unhappy doing this, and whether she had considered abortion when finding out about the condition through ultrasound. She shook her head and answered firmly, “because he is my child.” This is the kind of pure love and faith a mother has towards her child, and also something Dr. Zhang thinks is the most valuable among all kinds of affections.

“No matter how people prepare themselves for parenthood, I hope they always remember to love their children.” Children are not a burden to their mothers, when they came to this world, they are individuals and have their own abilities. The birth of a child is also a company to its parents, it allows a couple to live a new life and discover infinite possibilities when they have become tired of their old life. This is exactly why your children deserve Birthmark as the first gifts of their lives. We have never thought that before they are born and have met their parents, they are already eager to meet and love their parents.

Life itself is a miracle

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For someone who has never been pregnant, I was really curious at that moment of the interview about how mothers are feeling while while waiting for their children to be born, and why they love children. Dr. Zhang has witnessed many families prepared for the coming of new lives, some mothers look forward to it, and are excited to see their children grow up a little during every pregnancy checkup, while some mothers are rather calm about it. For these mothers with different reactions, Dr. Zhang as a doctor who is humorous at the same time often plays a game with them. He asks them what the best music in the world is, and the answer is the heartbeat of the baby inside the mother’s belly. It sounds confusing at first, but starts to make sense after a while. After hearing the answer, many mothers thought it was touching and cried.

In 2011, Japanese comedian Golgo Matsumoto went to the Tama Reform School in Hachioji, to talk to the youths who have been led astray, using his unique way to explain life to them. Golgo Matsumoto said that a so-called life, comes from a mother, and everybody came from a woman, so everything starts because of women. “We have to protect them, care for them, and definitely respect them. Your mothers might have given birth to you, but there are many mothers who have died giving birth before they get to see their children. Maternal death is a serious issue, yet it keeps happening.”

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Many people don’t believe in miracles, but they are happening millions of times every day, and this miracle is simply the birth of a child. Birthmark is here to offer mothers everywhere the chance to witness the miracle, to reassure their hard work and courage, and to praise humanity with the utmost respect. For more information on crowdfunding of this project please visit here.

This article is a repost from flyingV

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