Evaluation of a Desktop 3D Printed Rigid Refractive-Indexed-Matched Flow Phantom for PIV Measurements on Cerebral Aneurysms

W. H. Ho, I. J. Tshimanga, M. N. Ngoepe, M. C. Jermy, P. H. Geoghegan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fabrication of a suitable flow model or phantom is critical to the study of biomedical fluid dynamics using optical flow visualization and measurement methods. The main difficulties arise from the optical properties of the model material, accuracy of the geometry and ease of fabrication.

Conventionally an investment casting method has been used, but recently advancements in additive manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing have allowed the flow model to be printed directly with minimal post-processing steps. This study presents results of an investigation into the feasibility of fabrication of such models suitable for particle image velocimetry (PIV) using a common 3D printing Stereolithography process and photopolymer resin.

An idealised geometry of a cerebral aneurysm was printed to demonstrate its applicability for PIV experimentation. The material was shown to have a refractive index of 1.51, which can be refractive matched with a mixture of de-ionised water with ammonium thiocyanate (NH4SCN). The images were of a quality that after applying common PIV pre-processing techniques and a PIV cross-correlation algorithm, the results produced were consistent within the aneurysm when compared to previous studies.

This study presents an alternative low-cost option for 3D printing of a flow phantom suitable for flow visualization simulations. The use of 3D printed flow phantoms reduces the complexity, time and effort required compared to conventional investment casting methods by removing the necessity of a multi-part process required with investment casting techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular Engineering and Technology
Issue number1
Early online date9 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Bio-fluids
  • Cerebral aneurysm
  • Experimental fluid dynamics
  • Flow phantom
  • Haemodynamics
  • In vitro experimentation
  • PIV
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Refractive-matched


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