Protolabs is using MD&M Minneapolis this week to promote its new “true silicone” 3D printing offering that is gaining attention from medical device developers.
“It’s only been out for a couple of months, but it’s getting really good reception from medical customers,” said David Giebenhain, Protolabs’ global product director of 3D printing. (Check out Protolabs at Booth No. 2300 at MD&M Minneapolis — which runs today and tomorrow.)
The offering helps set Protolabs a cut above other 3D printing providers who offer materials that are “like” the real thing, but not the actual material.
The Maple Plain, Minnesota–based quick-turn manufacturing giant is offering true silicone through a partnership with Schlieren, Switzerland–based Spectroplast — which provides the material and spectrolithography-based 3D printing services. Protolabs inspects the parts at its Raleigh, North Carolina facility before shipping them to customers.
The silicone comes in a wide range of durometers (20A to 60A) that enables everything from spongy to hard parts. It has high temperature and wear resistance, elasticity, and high reproducibility after deformation or stress, according to Protolabs.
True silicone material has gotten Protolabs’ 3D printing services more deeply involved in the medical device industry. It’s branching beyond wearables, according to Giebenhain. Protolabs can provide documentation to back its medical-grade properties.
So far, Giebenhain has seen medtech companies use true silicone to make everything from bellows to protective boots to complex medical tubing. “Think tubing manifolds with cross sections that you wouldn’t be able to get off the shelf.”