01 November 2017
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Mixing silicones for facial and other prosthetics

The manufacture of a medical prosthetic device for a patient’s face or similar area is a highly skilled job: each device is unique and needs to be handled with great sensitivity

First and foremost, both functional and cosmetic considerations are involved. This may require careful mixing and colour matching of a silicone moulding compound, with no air entrapment, to ensure appearance and consistency of structure. Jim Dimond, consultant clinical maxillofacial prosthetist at University Hospital Coventry, explained how the Thinky ARE-250 from Intertronics helped move from a lengthy, manual process, requiring a skilled technician, to a short, reliable and automatic mixing process.

"Originally, mixing at the hospital was carried out by hand using a palette knife in two stages – mixing and then flattening on a flat glass plate to squeeze out the air. This was arduous – especially for larger quantities required for hands, breasts, facial and other components – issues equally applicable to other silicone applications, such as theatrical masks, plaster casting, special effects, model engineering, animatronics, life casting and pattern-making. The manual procedure was laborious and very time-consuming, as it generally required use of fillers for changing consistency and small quantities of intense colour pigment being mixed with clear silicones to suit the individual patient."

Seeking a more efficient method of mixing the compound and other components, Dimond contacted product specialist David Peat at Intertronics for a demonstration of the Thinky ARE-250 non-contact planetary mixer. The Thinky process, by means of both rotation and revolution of the material, mixes and degasses at the same time. The constituents are simply measured into a container that goes straight into the machine, saving time while reducing material waste and clean-ups.

The Thinky solution was seen as excellent for small quantities and also worked particularly well with their system of pre-preparing large batches of colour coded silicone – which was especially arduous and time-consuming. The Thinky ARE-250 was found to easily process even highly viscous material and, once programmed, ensured a thoroughly mixed, bubble-free compound to the required consistency for every batch without further intervention.

As Dimond commented: “I have been doing this work for about 12 years and for the past 12 months have used the Thinky a great deal. It has allowed us to quickly produce homogenous silicone in large quantities that is free of air, transforming a time-consuming, physical task into an automated effortless one.”


Brian Wall

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