Wednesday, October 1, 2014

News: All eyes on Picsima

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Fripp Design and Research, one of the UK's leading product design, research and business consultancies, is showcasing its advancements in 3D printing at a leading trade show this week.

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 firm is developing a 3D printer that prints in full colour silicone, a world's first, that will revolutionise the rapid manufacture of soft tissue prosthetics, including "new" ears, noses and eyes.

The advancements are being showcased at the UK's leading show on 3D printing and additive manufacturing - TCT + Personalize, where Fripp will display the system it calls Picsima, and launch its 3D silicone printing bureau service.

Using 3D printing technology in the medical sector 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, in full colour.

Tom Fripp, director at Fripp Design and Research, said: "We have spent the past 18 months developing our method for 3D printing silicone.

"Because we are using commercially available silicones, we are creating 3D printed parts with the material characteristics provided by the source manufacture, but without the need to create a mould and then vacuum cast; we simply 3D Print them. That means we can make parts very soft, extremely durable and capable of being steralised if required and we take out an entire process compared to other polymer based 3D Printing technologies; who needs to cast silicone anymore?"

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.

Fripp Design website

Images: Fripp Design and Research

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