Rapid prototyping soft parts
We prototype parts as close to reality as possible using a wide range of materials, finishes, and applications. In order to get as close as possible to series parts, we offer in particular the production of soft parts using flexible materials. In plastics processing, the family of elastomers is called TPE. This group of materials includes, for example, EPDMs that make it possible to simulate rubber. We offer different degrees of Shore, ranging from 40A to 90A.
Definition of Shore degrees
In rapid prototyping, the hardness of plastic parts is measured by the Shore hardness scale. While about a dozen exist, measures A and D are the most used in rapid prototyping. The Shore D scale is mainly used for semirigid and hard parts and the A scale for soft parts. In this category, the closer the number is to zero, the softer the plastic parts will be. The Shore degree is measured by means of a tool called a durometer. Here are some examples of hardness: 90A corresponds to a car tire, 80A to rubber, and 60A to elastic.
Applications of flexible parts
Flexible parts are used for many applications in rapid prototyping. For example, soft materials can be used for the purpose of producing shock-absorbing products. Thus, flexible protective parts such as kneepads can be made of elastomer. On the other hand, flexible parts can be used to provide a sealing effect. Flexible parts are also required to prototype watches or bracelets, so as to obtain a spring effect. In addition, the surfaces of this type of part are non-slip. The different levels of Shore also provide a different, more or less soft feel. It is also possible to simulate the overmolding of a soft part made of an elastomer in a part made of hard plastic.
We are able to manufacture flexible prototypes and small series of plastic parts from an elastomer. These parts can be produced using vacuum casting technology. Thus, we can produce flexible parts in quantities ranging from 1 to 200 copies. Our workshop is capable of producing prototypes of soft parts that are visual, functional and with excellent finishes. For example, the parts below were made inshore 60 and 70. The first part is a bracelet with a RAL 4010 paint finish. The second photo corresponds to the production of a set of 20 waterproof flexible parts. A case study detailing this project is available here.