3D-printing technology startup Advanced Life Technologies LLC (ALT; Santa Barbara, CA) reports that it has developed a new additive manufacturing deposition technology involving silicone materials. Silicone or poly-siloxane features low thermal conductivity, low toxicity, high gas permeability, wide operating temperature and high resistivity, making the material desirable in medical and other applications.
Silicone is more challenging to deposit using additive manufacturing techniques than conventional thermoplastics and 3D-printing filaments, which melt as they are extruded and quickly cool into hard object moments after their deposition, according to the company. ALT says that it has recently demonstrated simultaneous multi-material deposition of a number of different types of silicones and composites with varying viscosity, color and shore hardness. The illustration below shows a cross section of a 3D-printed human leg with synthetic skin, bone, muscle, adipose and fascia. The empty spaces represent blood vessels.
ALT offers additive manufacturing, as well as design services, with a wide range of materials, such as silicones, thermoplastics and high-strength composites. Individuals can order 3D prints in silicone for a wide range of applications from the company’s web site.
Founded in 2010, ALT has used advanced materials to simulate lifelike human tissues and conductive materials for embedding sensors into 3D-printed anatomical models. Applications include surgery simulation, 3D-printed prosthetics, endoscopic and intravascular procedures, clinical task training, medical skill development, and medical device design, verification and visualization.
The company is run by Jonathon Barton, PhD, who obtained his degree in material science at University of California Santa Barbara in 2004. He has worked on a range of projects developing advanced micro and nano materials for opto-electronics, optical and electrical sensors, biotechnology for cell culture and diagnostics, anatomical models and synthetic tissues, as well as structural composites.