Formlabs introduced the new Silicone 40A Resin material, the first pure silicone material available on Form 3D printers. Made possible by Pure Silicone Technology this material fills a gap in the market leveraging Formlabs’ stereolithography (SLA) ecosystem to produce 100% silicone parts efficiently and affordably.
While elastomeric 3D printing options are widely available, there are limited solutions on the market today that offer pure silicone 3D printing with advanced material properties due to high costs or technical challenges. Silicone 40A Resin parts exhibit a 40A Shore durometer, 230% elongation at break, and 12 kN/m tear strength, making them highly durable and pliable, even under repeated stretching or compression. These parts also feature a rebound resilience of 34% and outstanding chemical and thermal resistance (-25°C to 125°C). Moreover, they can achieve fine details as small as 0.3 mm and intricate shapes that are challenging for traditional manufacturing methods.
This versatile material finds applications across various fields. It is perfect for rapid prototyping, beta testing, and validation stages of products like consumer goods, automotive components, connectors, grommets, actuators, keypads, and watch bands. Additionally, it enables cost-efficient production of low-volume indoor end-use parts such as seals and gaskets. The resin is also well-suited for creating custom manufacturing aids like flexible casting molds, jigs, fixtures, and masking tooling. In the medical sector, it can be utilized for producing components for medical devices, patient-matched prosthetics, and applications in audiology. Furthermore, it opens new avenues for manufacturing complex geometry parts that are typically challenging to produce using conventional methods.
The introduction of Silicone 40A Resin by Formlabs marks a significant advancement, particularly for businesses previously unable to access pure silicone 3D printing due to cost constraints associated with traditional silicone 3D printers. Formlabs’ accessible platform now empowers these businesses and individuals to create end-use quality parts using a material familiar to both manufacturers and consumers. This workflow reasserts control into the hands of manufacturers who previously relied on outsourcing for silicone parts and enhances the productivity of prototyping teams within large companies.
Silicone 40A Resin significantly accelerates the product development timeline. It allows for the rapid 3D printing of multiple iterations of soft and flexible components, enabling same-day functional testing without the need for external contractors for tooling or labor-intensive silicone casting. This capability proves invaluable for performance-oriented applications like consumer goods, automotive, aerospace, or robotics design, where 3D printing and functionally testing parts such as wearables, grippers, actuators, gaskets, and seals expedite design optimization and streamline beta testing and validation stages.
The ability to test products and components that behave identically to eventual injection molded silicone parts instills confidence in the development process. By avoiding instances of redesign and obsolete tooling, companies can save substantial amounts, enhance product credibility, and capitalize on market opportunities.
Moreover, Silicone 40A Resin finds extensive utility in the creation of manufacturing aids and tooling, offering a fast and cost-effective solution for businesses. Being able to produce flexible fixtures or masking tools in-house provides significant cost savings by avoiding downtime and optimizing workflow. Additionally, the material’s qualities make it ideal for cushioning and compressive applications, prolonging machinery lifespan and safeguarding components from friction. The chemical resistance of Silicone 40A Resin further enhances its suitability for masking tools that require inert parts in the presence of different chemicals. Traditional manufacturing methods often take weeks to produce soft replacement parts, but 3D printing silicone parts on-site can resume equipment functionality within a day, significantly reducing downtime.
Furthermore, the combination of silicone’s properties and the geometric flexibility of 3D printing proves ideal for creating tooling on demand. Silicone 40A Resin facilitates the fast, clean, and efficient production of flexible and reusable silicone molds, particularly beneficial for casting materials like urethane, epoxy, resin, wax, or plaster. This approach allows for the direct 3D printing of complex geometries, providing a reusable mold that can be employed multiple times for creating various parts.
Silicone 40A Resin offers new opportunities in low-volume or custom manufacturing as well. Previously, the high cost of tooling hindered the customization of silicone products for consumer product manufacturers. However, with direct 3D printed pure silicone, especially when combined with the scalable Form 3+ printers, manufacturers can now offer personalized silicone products such as wearables and grips at a fraction of the traditional molding cost. This capability meets the growing demand for personalized products without incurring substantial expenses associated with manufacturing tooling for different silicone product lines.