Anna Liu and Mike Tonkin of London-based Tonkin Liu have developed an innovative medical device for use in patients’ windpipes. The prototype stent is based on the firm’s signature Shell Lace Structure, a “single-surface structural technology designed and developed through a decade of research for architectural and engineering applications.” The 3D-printed prototype is 500 times smaller than those used by the firm for their architectural applications and was developed in collaboration with Arup and the Natural History Museum. The structure behind the design uses biomimicry to abstract the principles of mollusks and plants and has been used since 2008 to create ultra-lightweight pavilions, bridges, and towers. The medical application of the technology takes the form of a tracheal stent, commonly used to treat collapsed airways in cases of throat cancer, trauma, and old age.
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