Oct. 21, 2014

Current 3D printers allows you to create 3D objects at home using traditional PLA and ABS filaments. But UK company Fripp Designs has come up with a device that lets you create parts from silicone without any support materials. They call it "Picsima Silicone 3D Printer".

"Nobody has ever 3D Printed silicone the way we are 3D Printing silicone," states the company. "Where our system differs from other methods for 3D printing soft polymers, we use commercially available 'off the shelf' silicones from well and long established manufacturers. Our unique IP is in the way we control the polymerisation of the silicone. The benefit to our clients is we can make very soft parts (down to Shore Hardness 10 A) and we can make very thin parts (sheets as thin as 400 microns)."

The Picsima Silicone 3D Printer is capable of printing silicone objects up to size of 100 x 100 x 30 mm. Although the resolution is only 0.4mm, it still can be used for many applications.

In the video below, Steve Roberts, co-founder of the company compared their 3D printed silicone with Stratasys' Tango Black flexible material used on its Connex 3D printers. With the Connex method, parts are made in Tango Black to get the 'fit' correct. Parts are then 'vacumm cast' in silicone to get the functionality. But with Picsima Silicone 3D Printer, they negate the need for vacuum casting. They can make very soft objects with shore hardness 10 A upwards, while Tango Black part is 3D printed at Shore Hardness 27A. The Shore A Hardness Scale measures the hardness of flexible mold rubbers. As you can see from the chart below, the Shore 10 A is close to 'extra soft'. The 3D printed silicone part can be stretched again and again without breaking.

More significantly, it uses off-the-shelf silicones, that means the materials they are using are cheap, and already FDA-approved for medical and food applications. All they are doing is controlling them in a very unique way.

"The idea for 3D Printing cross linked polymers came about when Fripp Design Limited was developing a new method for 3D Printing soft tissue prostheses; a project sponsored by the Wellcome Trust." explained Fripp Designs. "The method developed used existing 3D Print Technology, from 3D Systems, which involved 3D printing a prostheses, in full colour using a starch base material and then post processing in medical grade silicone. Unfortunately, for patients, the system was never adopted by the Maxillofacial Prosthetist Profession as they objected to the use of starch in a prostheses. Fripp Design Limited saw this as an industrial design exercise in developing a design solution to a client challenge. This was the motivation for developing the method for 3D printing silicone."

The company filed a UK Patent application in October 2013 and has filed a PCT in October 2014. Ultimately Fripp Designs wishes to sell 3D Printers, but this will require a serious injection of working capital to achieve this. Since the technology is already capable of building parts, Fripp Designs has recently set up a product design business 'Picsima Limited' to offer clients service for 3D printing parts in silicone. So if you would like 3D Printed in silicone then check out their website here.

Watch the video below:
This 3 minute video gives viewers an insight into the capabilities of our new 3D Printing method for 3D Printing cross linked Polymers such as Silicone and why our method is superior to the leading 3D Polymer Printer company, Stratasys, notes the company.

Posted in 3D Printers

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Anja wrote at 10/22/2014 5:46:09 PM:

@proofreadyourposts: Thanks.

proofreadyourposts wrote at 10/22/2014 4:46:59 PM:

"FDM-approved for medical and food applications" FDA?

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