Friday, November 15, 2013

News: Fripp go further in 3D

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Fripp Design and Research, one of the UK's leading product design, research and business consultancies, is close to launching a world first - a 3D printer that prints in full colour silicone.

Based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, Fripp are experts in all areas of product design and industrial design with customers ranging from blue chip companies, to UK leading universities, to individual inventors and entrepreneurs. It also develops its own own intellectual property in areas ranging from DIY to healthcare.

The experts, Tom Fripp and Steve Roberts, were at the 3D Printshow in London recently (pictured below) to showcase the firm's advancements in the rapid manufacture of soft tissue prosthetics, including "new" ears, noses and eyes.

Working with the University of Sheffield and with funding from the Wellcome Trust, Fripp has developed a system to fabricate soft tissue prostheses for patients suffering from facial deformities as a result of disease or serious accidents. It captures 2D colour and 3D spatial data independently to match the patient to the prostheses.

Using 3D printing technology dramatically reduces the time and cost of manufacture without need for invasive procedures. A patient can quickly obtain necessary replacements without having to revisit the clinic. Fripp co-own a number of patents in the manufacture of 3D printed medical devices.

3D printing often creates solid objects by building them up in very fine plastic layers. Fripp has been producing prosthetics by printing with starch powder to form a model which is then vacuum-formed with medical grade silicone. Now it is close to launching a system that prints direct with silicone.
The research has been backed by a grant from the Technology Strategy Board, the concept is being proven, and Fripp is working with commercial partners for further development of the technology through to a commercially available system.

Outlining the potential benefits of the project, called Picsima, Tom Fripp, managing director of Fripp Design and Research (pictured, right), said: "The benefits are numerous and include bringing the advantages of 3D printing to an even broader range of consumers.

"Components that would have to be assembled or bonded may now be manufactured as one part and true colour elastomer parts can be manufactured in high performance, medical grade materials.

"Applications as broad as medical, industrial, consumer products and automotive stand to benefit from this technology."

Fripp Design and Research website

Images: Fripp Design and Research

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