Silicones open the world of Additive Manufacturing / 3D printing for customized solutions for multiple applications.
Silicone 3D printing for disruptive innovation in additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as digital 3D printing, is a process that builds up components in layers by depositing materials in three dimensions. It is the opposite of traditional manufacturing modes as milling, turning etc. that eliminate materials from a block or an initial mold. It is therefore more efficient since it creates less waste. Its other main advantage is that additive manufacturing can create parts directly based on Computer Aided Design (CAD) models and use the freedom of design without the major traditional manufacturing constraints. The development of 3D Printers allowed professionals at first, to make small parts or rapid prototypes, which could then be visualized, submitted to stress tests, or fitted to other parts.
This process is now increasingly being used for creating functional parts in small or limited series production and to create replacement components for older equipment when, for example, the original manufacturer no longer supplies spare parts. Not only does additive manufacturing enable the prototyping and fabrication of new components and technology, it also widens the possibilities for the reuse and repair of older machines. It is more cost-effective, enhancing and accelerating design and engineering while contributing to greater sustainability.
The scope of applications for additive manufacturing is constantly growing, from micro parts for the electronics industry to test models for measuring wind resistance in the automotive or aerospace sectors, via on-demand spare parts for appliances and new designs and molds for jewelry and accessories. The use of a silicone 3D printer for medical applications is also increasing, in particular for prostheses and medical implants due to the biocompatibility of silicones.
The possibilities of additive manufacturing and 3D printing are infinite, and silicones are becoming the material of choice because of their versatility and ability to reproduce designs at the very highest levels of precision. R&D teams throughout the world are looking at a wide variety of applications using silicone 3D printers as an enabling technology for the factory of the future (Industry 4.0) such as using soft material in conjunction with robots
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