Oct 25, 2016 | By Benedict

Sterne Elastomers, a silicone materials company based in Cavillon, France, has added a 3D silicone additive manufacturing solution to its portfolio of niche technologies. The new silicone 3D printer, called SiO-Shaping 1601, uses silicone that can be 100 percent UV cured at low temperatures.

Wednesday October 19 marked the beginning of K 2016, the world’s largest trade show for the plastics and rubber industry, which is taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany. We have to admit that the event was not pencilled into our diaries, but the trade show has some interesting 3D printing products on show—one of those products being Sterne Elastomers’ new SiO-Shaping 1601 silicone 3D printer, marketed at a range of businesses, including medical device manufacturers.

According to Sterne, which specializes in liquid and high-consistency injection molding silicone production and has been providing silicone products since 1996, the new 3D printing technology is a mixture of fused deposition modeling (FDM) and stereolithography (SLA), and is presently able to create parts with a minimum layer thickness of 0.25 mm. "With a minimum printing layer of 0.25mm, we can manufacture items of extreme precision and great geometrical complexity", explains Anthony Pellafol, Materials Engineer at STERNE. Next year, that resolution could be as high as 0.1 mm. The company believes that the process could provide a solution for companies who require a single iteration of a design and who are not yet ready to invest in expensive tools and casts for injection molding.

“We’ve developed this for a year and a half,” Anthony Pellapol, a materials engineer for Sterne, told Rubber & Plastics News. “Everyone is talking about additive manufacturing. We heard about UV curing, and as we offer silicone, we needed to find something to do with this silicone. When we heard about UV curing, we thought maybe that’s the point.”

The new SiO-Shaping 1601 silicone 3D printer from Sterne offers two tangible advantages: first, the UV curing of the 3D printed parts is instant, making the process fast and efficient; second, the curing can be done at low temperatures, meaning that small electronics such as LEDs can be safely embedded into the printed parts.

Sterne believes that its new silicone 3D printer could provide customers with a better alternative to other production methods. “This is just a very good way to get a real part and to make a decision in a short time,” said Celine Laget, general manager at Sterne. “Sometimes the customers will need three, four, 10 different pieces of different models for different equipment, so it’s much worse getting a tool, and this could be the right solution.”

The UV-cured 3D printed silicone parts being produced by Sterne could be particularly useful for the company’s customers in the medical device industry. Silicone is a highly biocompatible material, and is used in various kinds of long-term and short-term bodily implants. Catheters, feeding tubes, scar treatment sheets, and numerous other products can all be safely made using silicone, making the medical sector an important target for companies like Sterne. Over 60 percent of Sterne’s customers are in the medical sector.

SiO-Shaping 1601 silicone 3D printer specs:

  • Maximum build envelope, in mm: 250 x 200 x 100 (l x w x h)
  • Minimum layer thickness: 0.25mm
  • Hardness: from 30 to 60 Shores A
  • Colorations : translucent (all translucent colors), opaque (red, green , yellow, black ...), phosphorescent

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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