Microporous Micromolding

Introduction In microcellular plastic foams, inert gas is dissolved in thermoplastic under high pressure. The forced evacuation of this gas during processing creates pores (or cells) within the final plastic. These cells are small enough that clarity of the plastic is unaffected, and because of the cells, much less starting material is required for creating low-density microcellular plastics than for creating conventional plastics, greatly reducing weight and cost. As there is a wide range of pore densities achievable, this technology has broad applicability, and one such far-reaching application is the development of micromolds. Technology Description Researcher Miller at the University of Washington has developed a process utilizing microporous plastics as molds for other materials. After using one of various techniques available to create open and extensive networks of cells within the microporous plastic, other materials can be injected into the space, such as other thermoplastics or thermoset polymers or even more exotic materials. Ultimately, this creates a composite, and the original microporous mold can be removed to reveal the injected material, which has taken the form of the mold. Business Opportunity This methodology for the production of microporous molds presents tremendous opportunities in a wide array of fields. One key area is microfabrication, and as technologies advance, more detailed and elaborate forms could be created as molds. Other applications include filtration and chromatographic support, biological tissue scaffolding, advanced microreactors or catalyst support, and low-density composite materials. Stage of Development A working methodology for this technology is in development. Intellectual Property Position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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