CSIRO develops silicone resins suitable for 3D printing of medical parts

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Image: CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed silicone resins suitable for 3D printing medical parts.

Resins, according to CSIRO, are non-cytotoxic, highly transparent, exhibit adjustable mechanical properties, and are capable of printing complex patterns in high resolution, including irregular shapes, thin walls, and hollow structures.

The motivation for developing the new technology, said Dr Ke Du, polymer chemist at CSIRO, was to help overcome the challenges that exist when current silicon resins are used for 3D printing. These include low resolution, slow speed, and the need to use specialized printers, which can be expensive.

“Our unique biocompatible resins exhibit a series of excellent attributes,” she said. “In addition, they can be used with standard printers without the need to modify them.”

Silicone resins can be used with a digital light processing (DLP) 3D printer with a light wavelength range of 360-500 nanometers, as well as common desktop DLP 3D printers available in trade, CSIRO said.

The research team added that the technology is also likely to work in stereolithography 3D printers and other photo-curable 3D printers, such as inkjet and extrusion.

CSIRO Biomedical Polymer Chemistry Team Leader Dr Tim Hughes said the resins have the potential to be used in 3D printed medical devices such as dental appliances, hearing aids, cochlear implants and prostheses.

“We believe that the resins can even help speed up the prototyping of some of these biomedical devices,” he said.

The research team also discovered a new characteristic of resin: its superglue properties, which can easily bind glass and metal.

The team is now looking for industrial partners to help commercialize the patented product.

On Wednesday, CSIRO and Optus also released the results of research that looked at ways to improve the bushfire resilience of telecommunications infrastructure.

Specifically, the research used information on topography, fuel load vegetation type, and local severity of bushfires to develop maps to assess where there is a risk of grid damage and where upgrades could reduce vulnerability to future bushfires. Some of the threat factors that were considered included embers, radiation, and flames on and around Optus sites with telecommunications equipment.

“Optus continuously aims to improve the resilience of our network, as we know that communities depend heavily on our services, especially during natural disasters and extreme weather events,” said Optus Chief Executive Officer, Lambo Kanagaratnam.

“Our collaboration with CSIRO has provided us with the analysis to enable us to target the best ways to protect the network where it might be most vulnerable.”

As a result of the study, Optus used the results to implement recommended mitigation measures at two of its sites in Victoria – Seville East and Dixons Creek – which will be used by the company to implement a program. longer-term bushfire resilience program, which will also include in-house training to improve employee awareness of bushfire threats and how to prepare for them.

“CSIRO has provided Optus with scientific and technological solutions that address a major threat to all industries that depend on critical infrastructure: bushfires,” said Justin Leonard, head of fire adaptation research bush at CSIRO.

“Research can inform decisions about resilience in a number of industries, including telecommunications, energy and emergency services.”

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