3D printing and virtual reality technology to improve hospital design in remote locations

Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is piloting the use of 3D printing and virtual reality technology.

Previously logistics teams have produced 2D drawings to plan out new medical facilities. However this means that the doctors who will be working at the hospital find it difficult to visualise the facilities and ensure that its design is best suited for the environment it’s in.

The new approach uses 3D technology to design the facilities in a way that will be most efficient and effective for doctors, field staff and patients. The pilot project was for an MSF hospital built after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The plans for the hospital were turned into 3D models, which were used to create a virtual reality experience using a video game engine, experienced using a VR headset. Using a simple game pad, doctors, staff and other partners wearing the VR headset can navigate through the digital representation of the hospital.

It provides a new way for staff to be able to visualise their working environment and anticipate usability issues that may arise, and enables them to view and evaluate the design before the first bricks are laid.

The pilot project has only just been completed but MSF anticipate that 3D models will soon be able to be sent digitally anywhere in the world and viewed on any web browser. 

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