Given that degrees of freedom are limited in a 3D printer, materials can only be printed in flat surfaces and cannot be created in any form which is more than one layer thick without printing supports. Silicone, being somewhat similar to rubber, would not have this limitation. It can be extruded to a much greater thickness with no supports required and can take many different shapes.
Can 3D Printers Print Silicone?
Yes. You can, in fact, 3D print with silicone. It has properties similar to rubber and you can print it at a much greater thickness with no supports required. It can also be extruded into any desired shape.
Silicone has some properties similar to rubber and can be extruded into any shape without support structures. It also has properties like rubber that make it desirable in certain applications such as wearables, home design, medical devices, etc., which is perfect for innovation with 3D printing. However there are many considerations when using silicone as an additive material for 3D printing – therefore if you want to learn more about those considerations or find out how one of these new printers functions, please read on:
The Basics of 3D Printing with Silicone
To start, the basics of 3D printing with silicone are these: 3D printers can print the material. It does not have to be “printed in” or “printed on”, but simply printed! Silicone is also designed to be extruded; therefore it will work for all the same applications and most of the same things you would expect in a typical extruder.
The reason it is called a “3DP” printer is that not only can you print with silicone, but you can also print with it in “three-dimensional” space. This means that you can get the 3D printed part of the project out of the machine and manipulate it in real-space before utilizing it.
The printer has a heated bed that will melt the material during the build process, as well as a nozzle which fires out filament to create shapes.
Considerations When Printing Silicone
There are many different considerations for 3D printing with silicone.
First, it is important to know that silicone has different properties than most 3D printer materials, so you cannot simply copy the application and expect it to work. Silicone is a polymer, meaning that it is one molecule among billions. Therefore, when you try to create 3D printed objects with silicone parts, chances are there will be other molecules involved in the structure of these parts. Therefore, when you introduce silicone parts into a 3D printer, these parts will often break down over time and materials will become degraded.
Is Each Part Forming Partially from the Silicone Material?
Yes, it is. The process for 3D printing with silicone is a bit different than with other materials. It is important to understand that just because parts of the printed object are made of silicone does not mean that all parts are or should be made of silicone. In fact, in many cases it would be completely impractical to do this. However, it is important to keep in mind that when you are creating a 3D printed object out of silicone that you are working with a polymer. Therefore, different applications for more complex and detailed objects may require different approaches and considerations for use.
The 3D printing industry is expanding exponentially every year, and now includes a category for printers that can print silicone. With the rapid increase in the popularity of 3D printing, it’s important to know why these new printers are revolutionary.