OpenHeart Project- An open source community designing heart pumps

Miss Amanda Miotto1Jo Pauls2

1Griffith University, Brisbane Australia –
2The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia –



A medical engineer presented us with a unique challenge. His team wanted to collaborate worldwide on designing 3D printable heart pumps – while keeping them open source and affordable for third world countries.

This presentation will provide an overview of the project, the processes and approach involved, learnings from the project and suggestions on how it could apply for other projects.


Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS) pumps are used to treat patients with advanced heart failure. A mechanical pump is surgically implanted to supplement or replace the blood flow generated by the native heart. Often proprietary pumps are completely unaffordable for citizens in third world countries.With the advances of 3D printing technology, the life saving ability to print an open source heart pump has made treatment more attainable.

Currently research is often undertaken in isolation within each laboratory, limiting inter-laboratory collaboration and thus limiting the full potential of the field of Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS).  There was a clear need and untapped potential for improved collaborative efforts, improved education and standardisation and subsequent improvement of research quality and outcomes within the field.

The system needed to be easy to use and learn, adaptable for different technologies, low-cost and sustainable long term. The repository needed to include not just the files needed for the 3D printers, but testing data, testing code and human-readable information about the mechanics.

Combining a workflow of technologies with sustainable solutions, we were able to provide engineers with a way to share their work with a low barrier to entry. This open repository platform was named OpenHeart. The platform incorporates web-based version control and documentation mechanisms, with attached collaborative tools providing networking opportunities and discussion over research questions and online courses and educational material for upskilling.

Coupled with this was the dual copyright licence, protecting both their programmatic code and their intellectual designs and testing data using both a Creative Commons (CC-BY 4.0) licence and a Open Source licence (BSD-3-Clause). This protects not just the designs of the heart pumps themselves but the code that resides in the 3D printable file. Paired with the licence is unique URLS and DOI minting for publication purposes, encouraging reuse and transparency.

This system offers access to the current developments in the MSC field for researchers in developing countries with a low barrier of entry. By sharing existing solutions (e.g. experimental set-up, equipment design, data analysis strategy) it will be possible to save research time and money while giving emerging researchers a head start.


Amanda Miotto is an Senior eResearch Analyst and Software Developer for Griffith University. She started off in the field of Bioinformatics and learnt to appreciate the beauty of science before discovering the joys of coding. She is also heavily involved in Software Carpentry, Hacky Hours and ResBaz, and has developed on platforms around HPC, microscopy & scientific database portals.

Dr. Jo P. Pauls is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Innovative Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology Laboratory (ICETLAB), Critical Care Research Group (CCRG) at The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane Australia and the School of Medicine at The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia. His research interests are focused on the development and evaluation of mechanical circulatory support devices and physiological control systems. In addition, Dr. Pauls is interested in open science and data sharing.

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