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Creating better silicone resins for 3D printers

We have developed a family of silicone resins for vat polymerization-based 3D printing that offers high resolution and tunable mechanical properties. ©  Nick Pitsas

The Global Silicone Market is expected to reach $91.4 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 22.5% (2019-2026).

A relatively new material to the 3D printing market, silicone has great commercial potential. It offers a solution for manufacturing customised products such as dental devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants, prosthetics, and patient specific medical devices.

But 3D printing with silicone has its challenges. Existing offerings either specialise in:

  • extrusion based printing – a printing service only, offering low resolution and lengthy process
  • vat polymerisation-based printing – where printing services only are provided and the resin is not available on the market.

We have provided a solution by developing a family of silicone resins for vat polymerization-based 3D printing that offers high resolution and tunable mechanical properties. Plus, the silicone resins are accessible on common, off-the-shelf 3D printers with no modification required.

We are looking for an industrial partner to help us further develop and commercialise this silicone resin technology.

Technology

We have developed a family of silicone resins for 3D printing that offers high resolution and tunable mechanical properties. Additionally, the silicone resins can be printed on common, off-the-shelf 3D printers.

The silicone resins work on the digital light processing 3D printer (light wavelength range from 360-500 nm). It is accessible to common commercially available desktop DLP printers with no need for modification.

Properties of our patented silicones:

  • viscosity is suitable for digital light processing (DLP) printing, is adjustable, shear-thinning fluid which is also accessible for extrusion-based printing
  • resin has tunable mechanical properties – it can be customised to suit/optimise different applications
  • biocompatible - In-vitro: non-cytotoxic
  • high resolution (capable of printing small features)
  • great compressive elasticity
  • high transparency.

The technology is likely to also work in stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers and perhaps, with modification, in other photocurable 3D printers such as inkjet and extrusion.

Applications

Our biomedical polymer chemists have paved the way for a new era of manufacturing silicone parts with their patented silicone resins for 3D printers. ©  Nick Pitsas

Our biomedical polymer chemists have paved the way for a new era of manufacturing silicone parts with their patented silicone resins for 3D printers.

The silicone resins can be used to 3D print customised parts with high resolution and tunable mechanical properties. Most importantly, and unlike any other product currently on the market, our silicone resins can be used with off-the-shelf 3D printers without need for modification.

The tough, super soft silicone has excellent resilience, elasticity and compressive properties. It can be used to print complex and irregular shapes with hollow structures and thin walls.

Applications include dental and hearing devices, prosthetics and intricate biomedical parts.

While we recognise the biomedical applications for the materials, our 3D printable silicones could be applied to many different applications depending on the properties required and shape/size of the object being printed. We have developed a family of resins with tunable properties and as such they can be adjusted to suit specific end applications, if needed.

Intellectual property

The team has submitted a provisional patent application to protect this technology.

The team

CSIRO's biomedical polymer team has extensive experience in the development of polymeric materials (hydrogels, fluoropolymers, polysiloxanes, and biopolymers) designed for specific biomedical applications.

Our team is focusing on the field of polymeric biomaterials, polymer 3D printing, medical devices, drug delivery systems, nanomaterial hybrids, and various self-assembly systems. More specifically we can design and synthesize new materials, tune existing materials to suit requirements, generate and help capture strong IP positions. We work effectively in multidisciplinary teams (working across disciplines).

Could this technology provide you with a competitive edge?

Contact us to find out more about our licensing and investment options.

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