A highly unusual application for 3D printing was approved for use by authorities in Switzerland.
The “Sarco” is a 3D printed capsule designed to support those proceeding with assisted suicide, a legal procedure in Switzerland. According to Swiss Info, 1300 individuals in Switzerland undertook assisted suicide last year.
Sarco was developed by Exit International, an Australian-registered firm, whose name is suspiciously similar to Exit, one Switzerland’s largest assisted suicide operations.
The pod is mobile, and can be transported to any site for use. For example, a patient could decide to operate Sarco in a familiar, friendly place, or perhaps a site with an incredible view of the world.
Sarco is actually controlled by the patient, as there is no external operator. To operate Sarco, the patient answers a series of questions, and then can press a button to activate the suicide process. Apparently the process involves flooding the chamber with nitrogen to provoke hypoxia, and the patient feels no discomfort during the experience.
The Sarco process is said to be far easier than the normal sequence of events in Switzerland, where doctors are required to prescribe a dose of sodium pentobarbital. Exit International’s intent is to place the entire process in the hands of the individual.
So far there are two prototype Sarco devices produced, and more are being produced in The Netherlands. My suspicion is that they are being made by Materialise, which definitely has the large-scale equipment available to 3D print the larger sections of Sarco.
The news is that Exit International has received approval for use of the 3D printed device. Founder Dr. Philip Nitschke said:
“Last year, we sought senior advice on the legality of using Sarco in Switzerland for assisted dying. This review has been completed and we’re very pleased with the result which found that we hadn’t overlooked anything. There are no legal issues at all.”
Sarco is an example how 3D printing can enable more easy development of new, advanced products. Normally initial prototypes would look much “rougher”, but the Sarco has a sleek design due to the accessibility of 3D printed solutions.
Simplifying the structural design work no doubt provided more time for Sarco designers to work on other, more critical aspects of the system.
Sarco is a very unusual device that would certainly be entirely illegal in some jurisdictions, but here 3D printing technology assisted Exit International in producing what seems to be an innovative product in a very niche market.
Via Swiss Info