In the current age of technology the demand for innovations and renovations to existing 3D-technology, has drastically increased. 3D-printing is being used in a wide variety of fields, and this is due, in part, to an increase in the efficiency and capabilities of these printers. With this increased efficiency however, comes the questions of what polymer is the best one to use in 3D-printing. Here following, the focus is on 3D-printing polymers that can be used in the medical field. And how may these polymers be produced at a reasonable price? As these questions are brought to the forefront of the 3D-printing revolution, independent labs are researching and developing new-age polymers to cope with increasing research and technical demands.
Basic Polymer Techonology:
Polymer technology is founded in the premises of heat-resistance and moldability. All 3D printers are dependent upon a heat resistant, moldable plastic that may be shaped, or “printed”. However, because 3D printing is a newer technology, having become a major focus in only the last five to ten years, almost all of the plastics and polymers are in the alpha testing or “lab phase”, and even those that have progressed into the beta testing phase, have not yet achieved corporate and commercial approval on an expansive and profitable scale. Due to a large variety of polymers being tested, and many potential uses have been projected to manufacturers, it is no surprise that the idea of using 3D-printing manufacturing of prosthetic devices has been proposed.
The leading corporation in 3D-printing, Stratasys, is currently testing two new polymers. They are responsible for the manufacturing of different types of polymers and printers used in industrial and industrialized-commercial 3D printing. For medical printing, concerns of polymer stability and durability, as well as the necessity of bio-degradable and Bio-safe manufacturing are raised by engineers, doctors, and other professionals.
Polymer Stability and Types of Polymers:
Polymer stability is dependent upon the category of polymer being considered. There are two major categories, those that have a more rigid orientation, that provide the structural strength necessary in certain products, and those polymers that have a more putty-like consistency, and which are used in the manufacturing of false eyes, injection molding, and organ printing, as these polymers have the ability to respond to stress via flexing. Those belonging to the former category are “FDM Thermoplastics” or “Fused Deposition Modeling Thermoplastics” and the polymers falling into the latter category are “Polyjet Photopolymers”. (Stratasys).
Polyjet Photopolymers are being used in the manufacturing of fake eyes, because they mold well, and may be individually shaped to a person’s eye, based on a silicone adhesive, or alginate mold. (For an example of a Polyjet Photopolymer, see Figure 1). FDM Thermoplastics are currently being used in automotive...