What are the advantages of silicone 3D printing?
Prototyping is the first application that comes to one’s mind when referring to 3D printing. A use which makes sense regarding today’s sustainable development issues.
Prototyping gives the client the possibility to reduce the development costs and secure its investment. By being able to visualise and test a real copy of the final piece, the client can thus validate their project without having to heavily invest immediately, for instance, in a machined mould used for big series.
The design loop stages are done upstream, before launching the design and making a machined mould, and all the modifications are done before to time and money – which is a valuable asset in today’s era where sustainable investment and limiting your carbon footprint is a consideration.
But silicone 3D printing is much more than prototyping.
Technologies used for a wide panel of solutions
These technologies, developed by Sterne, allow to multiply the possibilities. 3D printing is a valuable answer to small series or tailor-made unique needs, for which the making of a machined mould would not be cost-effective.
- SiO-Shaping 1601 was developed in 2016. This technology is dedicated to UV cured silicones. It allows to print pieces up to 200x200x100mm with a hardness from 30 to 60 shA. As UV emits less heat, SiO-Shaping 1601 makes it possible to print over thermosensitive material. This would be an advantage in the electronic fields. Another example of use could be to print onto plastics. The UV-curing process also requires less energy to function, which is an asset due to the matter of global warming. The printed piece is identical to the one injected after, with the same properties making the validation of the process safe.
- SiO-Shaping 2201, developed in 2022, functions with heat reticulation, which opens the silicone 3D printing process to a larger panel of silicones. It offers a larger possibility of dimensions up to 500x500x500mm, and a wider panel of hardnesses from 10 to 80 shA. The SiO-Shaping 2201 technology developed for high series, brings a real plus upstream the mass production. The final printed piece is indeed totally identical to the final injected pieces as the material used is the same. Again, validation is safe.
The SiO-Shaping technologies open the scope of possibilities to answer to unique or tailor-made components. Whether it is to replace a broken part, or to produce a tailor-made component in small quantities, silicone 3D printing brings solutions in a reduced delay (+/- 2 weeks) and at a lower cost.
But sometimes, some components can hardly be 3D printed because they are too complex. Fortunately, there is a solution: low-pressure moulding.
This technology consists of making a 3D printed plastic mould, in which the component is then moulded by low-pressure injection. The advantage of the lower pressure moulding technology is the possibility to print an infinity of shapes.