Dow and partners unlock colorful 3D printing with Liquid Silicone Rubber
Chemical company Dow has joined forces with Nexus Elastomer Systems and German RepRap to give 3D printing users the ability to 3D print silicone rubber parts in color utilizing Dow’s 3D printable SILASTIC 3D 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) material, German RepRap’s LAM 3D printer and a new color dosing system developed by Nexus.
The combination of the three elements—in addition to color packs from Mesgo Iride Colors—gives users the ability to not only 3D print products made from LSR material but to produce parts in a range of consumer-friendly colors.
Dow’s SILASTIC 3D 3335 LSR material, part of the IMAGIN3D series, is naturally transparent, making it well suited for applications where transparency is required. Now, users can add a range of colors to their LSR prints without changing the mechanical characteristics or performance of the part. This ability has the potential to unlock end-use applications in mobility and lighting, wearables, consumer electronics, footwear and more.
One of the most popular applications for the material to date has consisted of 3D printing silicone midsoles in collaboration with Danish shoe designer ECCO and CAD leader Dassault Systèmes. This initiative, called the QUANT-U project, consists of a unique service that uses customer biomechanical data to design and 3D print custom silicone midsoles.
As mentioned, the new and colorful capability is dependent on a combination of three key elements: Dow’s SILASTIC 3D 3335 LSR material, German RepRap’s liquid additive manufacturing (LAM) 3D printer and a new dosing system by Nexus Elastomer Systems. This last piece of the puzzle was adapted specifically for German RepRap’s LAM technology.
As Hans Peter Wolf, research and development manager at Dow, explained: “The collaborative work with Nexus and German RepRap to align the new dosing system with the German RepRap L320 3D printer enabled us to give designers the option of printing colored parts—as well as transparent parts—from this uniquely beneficial material.”
This week, the new collaborative achievement in colorful silicone 3D printing will be on display at K 2019. There, Dow will be showcasing its 3D printable LSR material, which produces parts with properties similar to those of injection molded LSR parts and has the potential to facilitate rapid prototyping and product development, easing the transition from prototyping to high-volume manufacturing.