New research out of the University of Florida shows a new 3D printing technology that could lead to strong, flexible, affordable medical implants.
Through this new process for the use of 3D printing and soft silicone, the researchers believe items that millions of patients use could be more easily manufactured, ranging from implantable bands to soft catheters to slings.
These kinds of devices are currently molded, which can take days or even weeks to create customized parts designed to fit an individual patient. The 3D-printing method cuts that time to hours, potentially saving lives. What’s more, extremely small and complex devices, such as drainage tubes containing pressure-sensitive valves, simply cannot be molded in one step.
The new method allows them to be printed.
“Our new material provides support for the liquid silicone as it is 3D printing, allowing us create very complex structures and even encapsulated parts out of silicone elastomer,” says lead author Christopher O’Bryan.