From Mockup to Prototype: The Benefits of Rapid Silicone MoldingCharles Leveillee
Hands up if you know about silicone molding?
If your hand is down, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Silicone molding isn’t exactly a topic that casually comes up over dinner. But it’s a topic that’s handy to understand and know more about. The way silicone molding can improve your life may be surprising.
When it comes to form, feasibility, and function questions from mockup to prototype, you discover why silicone molding makes the perfect option.
What is Silicone Rubber?
First things first.
The silicone rubber is a very tough material. It has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and pressure.
Silicone rubber is an elastomer because it’s made up of silicone, a polymer made of silicone itself. Along with hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Due to its good physical and chemical properties, silicone rubbers are used in a variety of industries.
As mentioned above, silicone rubber is non-reactive, stable, and has the ability to resist extreme conditions. Most plastics would melt at these temperatures (+250°C). Silicone rubber also has no detectable color and very low toxicity.
It’s also one of the only materials to retain its flexibility at temperatures as low as -70°C.
What is Silicone Molding?
Molding as a concept and process is more familiar than you may expect.
Think back to your days helping your mom bake or even further back, to your days spent playing with Play-Doh.
You’ve been engaging with the basic concepts of molding since you were a kid. Molding simply involves taking raw ingredients in a malleable form and forcing them into the final desired shape in a specific container.
After this, heat and pressure are applied to create a chemical reaction that elicits the intended final physical properties. It’s virtually the same with silicone molding.
Raw silicone is separated into two parts, a catalyst and non-catalyst, is mixed, and then placed into a metallic mold. After a set waiting time, pressure and heat are applied to create a solid form of the product.
Silicones vary in terms of viscosity, tensile strength, and elongation. But the methods for producing parts are pretty similar. Silicone molding falls into categories. This depends on whether the preferred substrate is liquid silicone rubber (LSR) or high-consistency rubber (HCR).
Compression molding and Transfer molding use HCR. While LSR is used only in liquid injection molding (LIM).
Uses of Silicone Rubber
Due to its excellent physical and chemical properties, the silicone rubber makes it a material of choice for many different industries and applications. They include the aerospace industry, medical industry, and the defense industry.
Along with this, the construction and restoration industry make use of Silicone rubber. Finally, the production of plugs, silicone O-rings, and sealing gaskets all use silicone rubber.
Silicone rubber is a popular choice for mold-making because of its ability to reproduce fine details. It’s also strong, easy to use, versatile, and is available to all.
What Are the Benefits?
As we’ve said, silicone rubber is extremely durable and strong. Incredibly, some silicone rubber products can withstand heat upwards of 350°C (662° F) for short periods.
Due to its outstanding properties, silicone rubber provides the following benefits:
- Good electrical insulation
- Excellent sealing ability
- A really good service life
- Cheap and fast manufacturing
- To be molded in different shapes
When silicone is in the liquid form, it’s able to stabilize under any environment. Along with this, the mold can hold its shape under high temperatures and high load.
In addition, an ever-increasing number of molding applications are selecting silicone rubber. This is because it allows for a wide spectrum of colors and levels of hardness.
What Is a Prototype Mold?
Prototype molds or rapid injection tooling is based on the same principles as series injection molds. But they have a simplified design that guarantees faster production. In addition, it’s also not intended for long-term use.
Production of the prototyping mold takes between 2 and 4 weeks and is 40 to 60% less expensive than a traditional mold.
Keep in mind that the cost and design time of the mold will be contingent on the shape complexity of the part to be molded. First, an analysis of your plastic parts will be done before the designers create tooling plans for your mold.
Production is then started according to your specifications.
New and Improved
Today, engineers and scientists have created a variety of different processes, from custom silicone molding to cheap silicone molding. In addition, companies now offer an invention prototype and complete prototype services.
Plastic Injection Molding is another technique involving prototypes. In this process, specially adapted solutions are used to produce prototypes and small plastic parts. Using similar techniques to traditional molding, plastic parts are injected using an aluminum prototype mold (rapid tooling).
The results achieved with this process are the same as series molds. Both techniques produce identical mechanical properties, robustness, and industrial information.
One way to reduce the costs and production times inherent in the plastic injection is as follows. Simply ensure that the design of the rapid tooling has a standard mold base frame but an interchangeable aluminum core and cavity inserts.
The Next Steps
After reading this article, it’s clear that, although molding silicone isn’t a new technique, mold makers and manufacturers are continually making adjustments to improve the consistency of final parts.
Silicone traits such as tensile strength, durometer, and viscosity may vary, but the methods for producing the parts are similar.
In order to ensure end-user satisfaction in the process, it’s helpful to have effective communication with suppliers. There are a bunch of critical elements that should be discussed leading up to production in order to improve accuracy and overall product performance.
Now you know all of this, what are the next steps?
For more information about silicone molding, please contact us. We’re more than happy to help you secure the best solution for your needs.