Elvira Ruiz Jimenez
Group Ees is a talented group of biomedical engineers ready to take 3D-printed design to a new level of clinical readiness. Our group experience in medical device design and tissue engineering allows us to pursue tackle challenging problems in the medical world with an eye to tissue compatibility.
Hunger is a daily struggle in many developing countries. Malnourished mothers often have difficulty producing milk, so those who are able to produce milk breastfeed infants from multiple mothers. Unfortunately, this can result in the transmission of orally-spread diseases between infants and puts an undue strain on the nursing mother's schedule. Group Ees has developed a 3D-printable breast pump system to help address these problems and make safe and easy milk distribution more widely available.
The Breast Pump System
The breast pump system includes three main components: the breast shield, the valve, and the foot pump. The valve and foot pump are in turn assembled from multiple components. Additionally, some plastic tubing, a 60 mL syringe, and a disposable plastic water bottle are used in the system. These components were selected because they are widely available and very inexpensive. See the video below for a demonstration of the breast pump system at work.
The breast shield is designed for comfortable use and an airtight seal against the breast. The shield should fit most women comfortably. Threads in the bottom nozzle allow for the attachment of any standard disposable drinking bottle. The breast shield can be scrubbed clean with soap and hot water.
The one-way valve uses a ball-and-cage design to allow suction without recoil. The assembly is composed of five small parts that can easily be glued together. The bottom valve hole fits the syringe nozzle, and the top hole accommodates plastic tubing.
The foot pump was designed to facilitate hands-free pumping, improving ease of use and eliminating arm fatigue. To operate the foot pump, simply alternate pressing the "lift" and "close" pedals shown to the right. The foot pump also includes several mounting holes, allowing the pump to be screwed into any wooden board or floor for extra stabilization. The breast pump system can be used without the foot pump, but this requires a second person to operate the syringe by hand. The foot pump is assembled from nine 3D-printed components as well as the syringe.
Printing and Cost
The time required to print the whole system is just under 43 hours, although most of this time is consumed by the optional foot pump. At a total printed cost of €10.53, our breast pump system represents a significant markdown from commercially available pumps.