Skip to main content

3D-printing material can be melted and remolded at surprisingly low temperature

Thanks to its speed and the extreme levels of customization that it allows, 3D printing has been a boon for medical applications, with physicians and other healthcare professionals able to use it for everything from making models to explain procedures to patients to custom prostheses.

A new material developed by U.K.-based company Torc2 opens up a host of new potential applications, however — predominantly related to manufacturing tailor-made casts or splints for patients. “What we’ve developed is a blend of polymers with a low melting point,” CEO Gary Blundell told Digital Trends. “What we’re hoping to do is to replace Plaster of Paris casts with a material that can be remolded at a temperature that’s comfortable for human contact. This means that any adjustments which need to be made can be done so while the patient is wearing it.”

In short, the thermoplastics compound shifts states between a moldable, putty-like consistency at 131 degrees Fahrenheit, and a rigid, rubberized plastic state at normal body temperature. “You can move between these two states repeatedly,” Blundell said. “We’ve done tests where we heat and reheat it to make sure it’s durable.”

One advantage of being able to do this is that it cuts down on waste since it means that a 3D-printed cast could be modified as a patient’s needs change — where previously it could be necessary to remove the original cast and manufacture a whole new one.

Blundell said the company is currently preparing to carry out clinical trials, which will demonstrate to the medical field how the material could be used to the betterment of patients. He additionally notes that Torc2 is exploring other avenues, where its innovative thermoplastics compound might also be used.

“Medical applications are fairly slow-burn,” he explained. “For good reason, there are various hurdles that have to be crossed, which makes it a long process. In the meantime, we’re looking at alternative methods for bringing in earlier stage revenue. We’re not sharing any details yet, because there are non-disclosure agreements, but we’re actively looking at a variety of industrial applications.”

Even just from a “maker” perspective, a remoldable material like this could be invaluable.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Need a last-minute Halloween costume? Check out these 3D-printable getups
3D printed Halloween costumes

Still not sure what to dress up as for Halloween this year? Well, instead of frantically scrambling around town looking for the right shop with the right stuff, have you considered 3D printing your Halloween costume? Check out our list of 3D-printable masks and costume pieces to get all geared up for this year's spooking, then fire up that printer.

If you've already finished your costume and want to get started on your scary movie watchlist, we've put together a list of the best horror movies on Netflix.
Squid Game soldier mask

Read more
NASA is testing a 3D printer that uses moon dust to print in space
The Redwire Regolith Print facility suite, consisting of Redwire's Additive Manufacturing Facility, and the print heads, plates and lunar regolith simulant feedstock that launches to the International Space Station.

The Redwire Regolith Print facility suite, consisting of Redwire's Additive Manufacturing Facility and the print heads, plates, and lunar regolith simulant feedstock that launches to the International Space Station. Redwire Space

When a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this week, it carried a very special piece of equipment from Earth: A 3D printer that uses moon dust to make solid material.

Read more
Here’s what a trend-analyzing A.I. thinks will be the next big thing in tech
brain network on veins illustration

Virtual and augmented reality. 3D printing. Natural language processing. Deep learning. The smart home. Driverless vehicles. Biometric technology. Genetically modified organisms. Brain-computer interfaces.

These, in descending order, are the top 10 most-invested-in emerging technologies in the United States, as ranked by number of deals. If you want to get a sense of which technologies will be shaping our future in the years to come, this probably isn’t a bad starting point.

Read more