With advancing technology manufacturing of machined parts and silicone molds is now easier more than ever. But minimizing input and maximizing output is one of the critical things that we should always factor to save on time as well as cost.
For the selection of fabrication methods of silicone molds, factors such as cost speed and approximation of the end-product design with regards to the dimension and properties of the material are some of the critical things that you need to pay special attention to.
When it comes to silicone molding parts, engineers, and designers at LT century, there is a wide variety of options in comparison to thermoplastics, thus making the production of silicone parts a little bit harder but not impossible.
Some of the most commonly used methods in silicone molding include:
- RTV Molding
- Selective laser sintering (SLA)
- fused deposition modeling (FDM)
Note that as we delve deeper into the three methods of production, one of the most popular and commonly used methodologies for the production of silicone parts is liquid silicone rubber.
The industrial formulation of RTV is widely available on the market; you can also find them at most hardware stores. Plastic and metal materials are typically used to make molds; the RTV is an essential part as it cures the molds at a consistent temperature, which at times may take long thus, ovens are the go-to option as it will accelerate the curing process.
Pros: RTV comes with easy access to raw materials as well as requires low investments. Once the mold is fully made, all you need to do is fill the mold cavity and wait. Skilled engineers can make the mold in just a day
Cons: The molding process is quite slow as it takes as little as 20 minutes to even hours making it time-consuming
This is a popular prototyping technique that uses an additive manufacturing process to create machined parts/products as it can be easily formulated using elastomeric materials.
Pros: Its completely autonomous and does not need machining of the mold. Within just hours, small volumes can be manufactures at a fast and efficient pace.
Cons: The raw-material elastomeric is not an original silicone rubber; extreme accuracy and precision can be quite tricky, especially when using thin-walled design and natural finishing.
High consistency rubber (HCR)
In this method, mold parts are typically made from HCR, the process of the insertion of molten materials onto a heated cavity, which is, in turn, cured forming a product/part. When it comes to transferring molding, HCR is the best option due to the high viscosity of the gum stock compared to LSR
Pros- It entails little or no process development, it requires simple and normal tools
Cons- Its impossible to create molds with complex or intricate geometries