Introduction to Poro-Lay and Gel-Lay

GELLAY filament

Photo: Ed Coe

When inventor Kai Parthy debuted the Poro-Lay and Gel-Lay filaments in 2013, it made a huge splash. 3D-printed memory seems like it would be the future, right? Imagine if you could create squishy parts for custom handles or custom seat cushions? What if you could create soft toys for children by just printing off a model, or even baby-proof sharp corners with a 3D printer? Contoured bike seats, 3D printed padded sports equipment, precise orthotics— the possibilities go on!

The Poro-Lay Lay-Fomm works by trapping small bits of dissolvable plastic (like polyvinyl alcohol or PVA) in filament that is flexible.The filament is stiff because the dissolvable plastic helps to hold the filament form, allowing it to be printed with ease. The resulting printed material continues to have suspended particles within it, although over the course of several days, you can then dissolve this material out, leaving microscopic pores in the flexible material. The holes left behind create a uniform open-cell foam. The INR team is investigating whether this material could be used to create flexible therapy objects or craft soft skins to wrap around pre-exiting hard artifacts. We are currently experimenting with creating some sample prints in order to calibrate the print settings and test the dissolving process.