3D Custom Models Are Revolutionising Anatomy Education in Yoga

Last year 3DPrintWorks embarked on a fascinating project with yoga teacher and founder of Meadowlark Yoga, KarenBreneman (@avidyogi). Now, we are working on a custom models project that aims to improve the way that yoga is taught in classes.

3DHubs has been the perfect conduit for many people to have custom models 3D printed. In this case, printing one object has lead to an on-going relationship and cutting edge developments for both Karen and ourselves.

The current project involves 3DPrintWorks printing a series of anatomical body parts for Karen to use for educational purposes. The need to 3D print anatomical custom models arose when Karen found herself growing frustrated with the limitations of the plastic models on sale. She showed me two of these models – a pelvis and a rotator cuff, explaining how they failed to represent how the parts really look and move.

Karen wants to be able to use authentic models to explain why certain movements are conducive to preventing injury. It begged the question – how can you teach authentically and effectively when you don’t first have the tools to do so?

3DPrintWorks role in this project has been multi-faceted. We have designed authentic anatomical representations using Solidworks and Rhino software, creating and completing the files and of course 3D printing the new parts! So far, we have 3D printed several clavicles, human bones and are now completing a rotator cuff.

Although the process described in the previous paragraph is normal when 3D printing a part for a customer, this project has been more over-reaching as we have worked closely with Karen to better understand anatomy and the theory of tensegrity. Infusing our 3D printing expertise and Karen’s knowledge of yoga and anatomy, we are now able to produce 3D printed representations in a way that has not been done previously.





What has been the most exciting output from this entire project? Because traditional filaments would have been unable to create the tensegrity effect Karen wants to achieve with her custom models, we had to manufacture two new filaments!

Yogaflex, a filament based on polyurethane polymer, has allowed us to make fully flexible muscles and tendons. For the support material, we manufactured a brand new cold water dissolvable filament to accommodate the natural voids that occur within the body. Although we have been using Yogaflex exclusively for Karen’s project, we will be formally launching both of these filaments in the near future.

So, what does this project mean for us? This project has challenged, educated and pushed us as manufacturers and engineers. It is yet another example of how different disciplines are overlapping in ways we never thought possible due to additive manufacturing technology. With the completion of this project, Karen will be able to educate yogis on how they can establish a life-long practice that will diminish the risk of injury.