Silicone Injection Molding Rapid Prototype
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Silicone Injection Molding Rapid Prototype

Most customers are uncomfortable with the idea of having to prototype their product idea without knowing if it will perform as intended. This is typically not an ideal approach for new entrepreneurs and established businesses. Unlike plastics, silicone materials can be challenging to prototype due to their properties. In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges of 3D printing with silicone.
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Silicone Injection Molding Rapid Prototype


Most customers are uncomfortable with the idea of having to prototype their product idea without knowing if it will perform as intended. This is typically not an ideal approach for new entrepreneurs and established businesses. Unlike plastics, silicone materials can be challenging to prototype due to their properties. In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges of 3D printing with silicone.


3D Silicone Printing

3D printing in silicone is a promising new technology that allows you to create parts with a very similar feel to what they are made from. You can still get a prototype part with a similar feel to the actual product but without the use of the actual material. This is still very new and still very limited availability.


RTV Casting

RTV silicone casting is a process that has been around for a long time. It allows you to produce a prototype part with a low cost. This process allows you to transform your 3D model into an actual part. It's a very manual process and requires patience and experience.


Casting can be helpful for those who have trouble visualizing the part from a drawing or for marketing purposes; in photoshoots and presentations. RTV material is not as durable as silicone materials and can not be tested with cast prototypes. This is a big negative as it is a visual product.The budget for casting RTV silicone prototypes is typically in the range of $1,000-$2,500 and sourced within a week or two.


Compression Molding

Compression molding is a process that can produce high-quality prototype parts for end-use functional testing. A compression mold is usually made in about 2 weeks. It is then used to produce LSR molded parts that are equivalent to Liquid Silicone Rubber. This type of part is made up of compression molded parts that are typically not injected and are not as attractive in appearance as the final injection molded parts. Compression molding is a great method to evaluate various durometers and colors for end use testing.


Compression molding is mainly used for low volume production runs. It can be used in multiple cavitation scenarios. Compression molds can produce up to 50 parts in an 8 hours shift, which is not ideal for long term production. The labor involved drives part pricing up significantly. The budget for prototyping a part in compression is in the range of $800-10,000 dependent on part geometry and the number of prototypes needed.


Soft Tooling Injection Molding

If you require thousands of prototype parts for initial sales or end use testing, then build a single cavity injection mold. This type of mold is typically used for low production runs. This aluminum mold is also suitable for low volume production runs typically up to 10,000 parts per year.


The lead time for an aluminum injection mold is generally around 4 to 6 weeks. This allows you to enter the marketplace quickly and introduce new products.  The life of the mold can be extended using NiBore coating and it is possible to use these molds for 100,000 or more silicone parts in some cases.


A single cavity injection mold is capable of producing hundreds of parts per day. The cost for this mold depends on the part geometry and the NiBore coating that's applied to extend the life of the mold.


Contact TEAM MFG

If you're looking for help with the design and development of your silicone product, contact the experts at TEAM MFG.


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