COP Chimie is a French SME based in the Vercors region which has been developing materials for the orthopedic equipment industry for over 30 years. The company’s Research and Development laboratory has succeeded in developing a range of 3D printable silicone elastomers certified for skin contact and produced on its synthesis unit: COPSIL 3D.
This innovative solution with an ultra-fast manufacturing process also allows for a more pleasant contact on the skin through the formulation of a range of silicone elastomers. The formulation of a flexible and printable skin contact material to make customized orthosis and external prosthesis by 3D printing can greatly improve the lives of many disabled people who wear orthopedic devices on a daily basis. To date, the range extends from 10 to 40 Shore A hardness and continues to grow.
Benefits of 3D printable silicone
Silicones, generally in the form of oils or translucent elastomers that can be easily colored, are appreciated for their resistance to temperature, their flexibility, their hydrophobic and textured character. Silicones also ensure chemical stability, which makes them suitable for the physiological environment in particular. Thus, silicones are used in the composition of numerous products and objects with a wide range of uses: hygiene and cleaning products, seals, industrial or food molds, coatings and paints, lubricants and greases, prostheses, toys, etc.
In the medical field, for example, additive silicone manufacturing allows custom-made devices to be produced without the need for manual molding or casting, thus reducing manufacturing time and costs. It also allows the inclusion of voids and the variation of fill rates of structures to lighten them or modify their properties such as :
- reduce hardness
- increase resilience,
- allow for better depreciation,
- add anisotropy to the printed object,
- increase mechanical properties,
- obtain variable mesh diameters,
- increase the exchange surfaces.
COPSIL 3D, 3D printable silicone for skin contact
Supported by 4 years of doctoral work, COP Chimie has developed a silicone with specific rheological behavior (/consistency) allowing layer-by-layer deposition of liquid silicone without collapsing. The hardness and reactivity of the COPSIL 3D elastomers can be adapted to the type of structure to be built. The platinum-catalyzed polymerization occurs at room temperature once the two parts are mixed in the static mixer of the printhead. It can be accelerated by energy input (heat). Printed COPSIL 3D polymers have the same mechanical properties as cast silicone. They do not shrink, have no odor and are compatible with skin contact applications (ISO 10993-5 certification). They are ideal for the manufacture of flexible parts with complex designs or small series, for example for prototyping.
In order to develop this process as widely as possible, COP Chimie is partnering with Lynxter, a French machine manufacturer, to enlarge its range of printable silicones and also with F3DF, a specialist in professional 3D training, to train users in liquid silicones for 3D printing.