Dow, German RepRap, & Nexus: 3D Printing Colored Liquid Silicone Rubber Parts

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Earlier this year, chemical company Dow created a versatile liquid silicone rubber material, called SILASTIC 3D 3335 LSR, which has a low viscosity and is perfect for applications such as 3D printed footwear. The breakthrough material, with a 50 A Shore hardness, is also very transparent, which is helpful when designing and fabricating parts for applications that require high clarity, and was designed for German RepRap‘s Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM) 3D printing, developed with Dow Corning.

Now, Dow and German RepRap are collaborating with Nexus Elastomer Systems to allow designers to create not just transparent 3D printed parts, but colored ones as well, using SILASTIC 3D 3335 LSR and companion color packs from Mesgo Iride Colors.

Hans Peter Wolf, the research and development manager at Dow, said, “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.”

Dow’s SILASTIC LSR has the design and processing advantages offered by 3D printing, combined with the performance benefits of silicone elastomer materials, allowing for customized product creation, small manufacturing trials of complex parts, and increased speed for prototype development.

With a tensile strength of 9.5 psi, this material is a two-part (1:1 mix ratio) platinum-catalyzed, thermoset LSR designed especially for 3D printing use.

German RepRap L320 3D printer [Image: German RepRap]

“The base material is highly transparent, making it ideal for applications where clarity and transparency are vital,” the Dow website states. “SILASTIC™ 3D 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber also may be printed in a range of standard colors via the use of compatible color packs and precision dosing equipment.”

Using Dow’s LSR material, and a dosing system by Nexus, designers and end-users can now 3D print silicone rubber parts in a range of colors, with properties that are comparable to those of LSR parts created with injection molding, at a faster rate of speed to market.

The collaboration has also linked the Nexus color dosing system with the stable L320 LAM 3D printer, which German RepRap introduced this summer.

Every three years, the world’s premier conference for the plastics and rubber industry – the K Trade Fair – is held in Düsseldorf, Germany. This month, Dow will be attending the event, which runs from October 16-23, and holding daily demonstrations of its 3D printable SILASTIC 3D 3335 LSR material on the German RepRap L320 3D printer.

You can see the process for yourself, along with over 140 displayed prototypes, at Dow’s Booth K48 in Hall 8A. It’s all part of the company’s inclusive new brand platform, Seek Together.

“We will have an extensive team of Dow specialists ready and waiting to start a dialogue with visitors about becoming more circular. Over 100 of our prototypes will be on display to inspire discussions and illustrate what’s readily available today, and possible tomorrow,” said Dow’s Frank Neve, business communications leader Packaging & Specialty Plastics EMEA. “It’s our aim to explore new opportunities and keep the conversation going because we are convinced the circle can – and will be – closed. It’s just a matter of time and collaboration.”

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Images: Dow, unless otherwise noted]

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