Developing a radial force rig to screen 3D printed vascular stents

Study level


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Mark Allenby
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (AQF)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr David Forrestal
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Zhiyong Li
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Edmund Pickering
Postdoctoral Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Mia Woodruff
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Dr Nigel Pinto, Vascular Surgeon


Vascular surgery is Australia’s second-most expensive surgical program, primarily due to an aging population with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, representing 29% of all deaths in 2017.

Globally, cardiovascular disease remains the primary cause of morbidity and mortality. This high clinical burden has led to a $10B global market value for vascular medical devices, primarily stents.

Vascular stents are utilised when an artery or vein has become occluded, disrupting normal blood flow. Currently, stent materials are severely limited to be either stainless steel or Nitonol, non-dissolvable metals which are a lifelong source of irritation and inflammation. While stent manufacturers are extremely interested in developing a degradable polymeric substitutes for metal stents, no successful designs exist.

A critical evaluation of stent mechanical properties is examining radial force. However, national standards require expensive certified instruments only available at manufacturer facilities. This limits the ability to rapidly screen new polymeric stent designs that could be fabricated using additive manufacturing technology (3D printing).

In this project, you will develop a radial force rig validated on gold-standard vascular stents from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital toward the rapid screening of 3D printed vascular stent designs.

Research activities

This project will develop your skills in instrumental and experimental technologies. These skills are useful in a variety of manufacturing and biomedical industries.

As part of the research project, you will be involved in:

  • a literature review of current pathology, surgical treatment and instrumental approaches
  • design and development of a radial force measurement device
  • validation of measurement device using surgical metallic stents
  • design, 3D printing and radial evaluation of polymeric stent geometries.

You will be working with a talented team across the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology (BTM) laboratory and the greater Herston Biofabrication Institute (HBI). This team includes physicists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists and the clinicians who are operating on the patients.

You will be able to attend surgeries and consultations and will be expected to attend lab group meetings once per week alongside full time research.


This project is supported by the BTM laboratory with extensive experience in medical imaging, computational design and modelling, multi-material additive manufacturing (3D printing) and tissue culture and histology, while having direct access to HBI clinician mentorship.

This project aims to:

  • develop a low-cost radial force measurement device able to measure metal and polymeric stents
  • validate device accuracy using current surgical stents
  • design, 3D print and test polymeric stents
  • develop an understanding of polymeric stent designs toward radial force optimisation.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project, you should have a background in a relevant engineering, mechatronics/robotics or applied discipline and be interested in 'hands-on' development of a new mechanical testing rig.

The engineering and validation of such testing systems are applicable for your future industry or research career.



Contact Dr Mark Allenby for more information.