Photo/IllutrationThese figurines of babies were made with a 3-D printer using image data from ultrasonographic tests. (Tamiyuki Kihara)

Expectant mothers and their partners now have the option to keep a new kind of memento from their pregnancies--3-D printed figurines of their babies developing in the womb.

Marubeni Information Systems Co. (MSYS) has started a service reproducing images of unborn babies in 3-D using acrylic resin. The company works with obstetricians and gynecologists so the figurines can be used as mementos of deliveries or as presents for family members.

“We hope that, when a baby has grown bigger, he or she will have an opportunity to look at his or her figurine with parents and look back together to the past with nostalgia,” an MSYS official said.

Stereoscopic images from “4-D ultrasonographic” tests of unborn babies are used to replicate their appearances.

Cute shots of a baby, such as ones capturing them smiling or holding a finger in the mouth, will be taken by a doctor, who will then provide the data to MSYS.

The company will use its latest model 3-D printer to complete a figurine of acrylic resin in two or three weeks.

The baby’s mother and the doctor will discuss and decide which shot to use.

There is large demand among pregnant women wanting to see stereoscopic images of the babies growing inside them. Some of them travel great distances to go to medical institutions with testing equipment that allows them to do so.

The service is the brainchild of Nishikawa Ladies Clinic in Osaka’s Abeno Ward, which started the service on Oct. 1.

MSYS also plans to start working with a Kyushu hospital by the end of this year. The company is hoping to be making 50,000 figurines annually three years down the road.

“I hope people will feel more intimate with their babies and take more joy in this impending major life event called delivery,” said Masahiro Nishikawa, director of the clinic.

Rates will vary, depending on requirements of the hospital involved and the size of the product.