Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM) impresses clients with high process speed, distortion-free printing, and almost limitless freedom of form. In addition, the technical properties of the system correspond to those of traditional manufacturing processes. The innovative processing method is suitable for prototypes as well as for industrial small series. As a result, this additive manufacturing process is gaining relevance in a wide variety of industries and application areas.
As inspiration for what is possible with the LAM 3D printer LiQ 320 from German RepRap, here we will provide some examples.
The need for industrial seals made of liquid silicone rubber is almost endless. Seals are getting smaller and smaller, and shapes are getting more and more complex – and, in some cases, with a batch size of just one. With the LiQ 320, manufacturers can adapt quickly to this development.
Thanks to this innovative technology, seals can be designed and produced very fast without the long set-up times and high costs associated with injection moulding.
From micro seals for electronic devices to profiled window seals and classic ring seals, many items can be realized with additive manufacturing. It is even possible to print a silicone seal directly onto an existing component. To do this, the object is placed in the printer and the silicone is applied directly to it and cured. The only restriction is that the component must be temperature-resistant, as the thermal cross-linking of the silicone takes place during the printing process using a high-temperature halogen lamp.
Healthcare and medicine
Thanks to its outstanding properties, silicone has gained a firm foothold in the medical sector. Since customization also plays a major role in this field, the LiQ 320 is predestined for such applications.
The following two examples come from our partner Yamaichi Special Steel:
The mouth-nose mask is quite timely for this pandemic year 2020, and is exceedingly practical, convenient, and sustainable. Only a thin paper filter is inserted into the silicone mask. The mask itself is produced in a very short time with minimal use of materials – and in various sizes. Whether child or adult, narrow- or wide-faced, there is a mask for everyone that fits and is comfortable.
Another example, silicone earplugs, are similar to the mouth-nose mask in terms of time and cost. In addition, they can be easily customized to fit any ear canal.
Yet another example was realized in cooperation with DOW and the shoe manufacturer ECCO: silicone insoles for shoes that are ergonomically adapted to the respective foot. Here, too, the consistently positive properties of silicone rubber come into play. The cushioning properties of the sole remain as they were on the first day, even after countless miles.
Whether for scalp massages or facial cleansing, silicone brushes have become an indispensable part of the wellness sector. The fine brush structures can also be optimally produced with Liquid Additive Manufacturing. And more than that, the diameter of the individual bristles can be adjusted virtually in the blink of an eye, as can the size of the entire brush and the basic shape.
Our final example falls into the realm of everyday objects and is kind of a mesh shopping bag, produced by our partner Hotty Polymer. The bag is lightweight, flexible, handy as well es robust: because, as mentioned at the beginning, the technical properties of LAM correspond to those of traditional manufacturing processes.
As with all additive manufacturing processes, the prerequisite for a good result is that the component is additively designed or redesigned and the printing parameters are optimized for the printing job. Therefore, German RepRap sees itself as a long-term partner for its customers: Whether it’s the sales team, application specialists or colleagues from the service department – our employees are always available as contact persons with their extensive knowledge and years of experience.
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