Tech brings imaging of unborn babies to new levels with 3D printing

Expectant mothers have long been able to come out of their obstetrician’s office or hospital with an image in hand of their baby in-utero. When ultrasounds and printing of these images became available during prenatal care, expectant parents relished in this opportunity. Nowadays ultrasound  print-outs have become a cherished first keepsake many parents place in a baby book or special box.

Now technology has taken imaging to a new level, and businesses are offering parents a different type of pregnancy memento.

Taking ultrasound to a new level

A company called 3D Babies has created a way to use 3D printing to create a plastic “doll” for parents to have as a keepsake. How it words, according to the Los Angeles Times, is the company takes printed copies of 3D and 4D imaging sonograms, “tweaks them a bit digitally” and then uses 3D printing to create a plastic model of the growing baby, emphasizing facial features and likenesses. The body appears to be standard, CNET reported the body was “pre-made.”

Model options and pricing

3D Babies offers expectant parents a number of options when they go to buy their printed 3D baby image. These options include:

  • Skin shade: Parents can choose from three skin shades: light, medium or dark.
  • Size of model: Models come in three sizes, life-size (8 inches – approximately the size of a 23-24 week old fetus), half-size (4 inches) and “mini” (2 inches).
  • Positions: Options include two positions, one that prints the baby’s gender visible while the other is obscured. If parents want to show the baby model’s gender, they must specify girl or boy.

According to the company’s website, pricing is figured according to size; life-size is $600, half-size is $400 and mini is $200. Or alternatively, the company offers gift cards which might be an attractive gift idea for baby showers; different gift card denominations are offered. Additionally, parents that want a doll-sized model after their baby is born can send photos of their newborn.

About 3D Babies

3D Babies is a new company, launched by Gerard and Katie Bessette, the parents of two toddlers. They first announced the idea for their business on crowdsourcing site Indigogo in October 2013. The couple advertise their product as a way to help families hold onto the cherished memories of pregnancy (or infancy). The company’s crowdfunding attempt was not very successful, only having raised $1,225 of a $15,000 goal, but the company seemed to get off the ground anyway.

It seems as if this type of technology is taking off in a variety of ways, so it seems possible 3D printouts could possibly be the trend of the future. A company in Japan offers a similar service, but the printed 3D baby models were not “doll-like” but mini-sized (i.e. for a keychain) and placed inside a glass case. However, as Ars Technica points out, the lack of funds raised for the idea might just mean society feels some things just should not be printed in 3D. Will 3D printouts become the next big trend? Time will tell.