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Flexural Composites Research, ATRG

Unit(s) of assessment: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Research theme: Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials

School: School of Art & Design


Building on 15 years of experience in applied composites, Flexural Composites Researcher, Richard Arm, began creating biological simulations to help train surgeons in 2012.

Alongside Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and other industry partners, the aim of current research is to develop affordable, realistic, anatomically-correct simulators that could be used within any clinical training environment as surrogates for cadavers and plastic mannequins that lack realism. Strict regulations on cadaver use limits accessibility of specimens for training.

Addressing the Challenge

To meet the need for realistic surrogates, a Thoracic Trauma Trainer has been created to communicate the 'living-patients' morphology, bridging the gap between mannequin and cadaver use.

Anonymised CT scans from living patients, processing software and additive manufacturing produce rigid 3D printed simulations of in-vivo physiology. Transforming these structures into tactile simulations involves peripheral research into the diversity of living tissue’s mechanical properties.

With strong roots in traditional craft and material science, this research illustrates the interdisciplinary links fusing art, medical imaging, biomechanics, manufacturing, 3D software and additive manufacturing. Novel processing techniques developed at Advanced Textiles Research Group marry mature methodologies with innovative manufacturing techniques and elastomeric technology.


Richard Arm works on several live defence projects revolving around the use of new technology or methodologies to support medical device design and configuration of technology as well as education of emergency medical treatments.

Richard's research areas include; Bio-medical engineering and prosthetics, biomimetic materials, synthesising living human tissue, wearable technology, functional and flexural composites, future technology, bio-thermal energy scavenging.

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