Cerritos, Calif. — R.D. Abbott Co. Inc. is looking to help spread the word in North America about the liquid silicone rubber 3D printing technology developed by German RepRap GmbH and Dow Performance Silicones.
Its laboratory in Cerritos is now equipped with the patent-pending Liquid Additive Manufacturing 3D printer that RepRap designed to be used in conjunction with the Silastic LC 3335 LSR grade from DowDuPont Inc.
The two companies unveiled the technology in late 2016, and now R.D. Abbott, a supplier of elastomer products and technical services, is aiming to help customers cut down the prototype process and potentially produce low-volume parts, according to Rick Ziebell, R.D. Abbott's vice president of technology.
"With this new LAM 3D printer, we can assist our customers with their LSR designs by providing fast turnaround prototype parts," he said. "This provides assuredness in design and streamlines the process of moving from the design phase to production."
The California-based firm first touted the technology at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference last fall in Cleveland. Besides having it available at its lab in Cerritos, the technology is planned for display at the MD&M West Show in Anaheim, Calif., at M.R. Mold & Engineering's booth, with Ziebell also presenting a paper on the innovation during the conference.
German RepRap designed its 3D printer to print successive layers of the Silastic LC-3335 printable LSR in a method comparable to the firm's fused filament fabrication 3D printers. Each layer of silicone is cross-linked through thermal cure to produce parts with properties comparable to molded components. The firms said the 3D printing process can form complex silicone parts that would be difficult or impossible to achieve through conventional injection molding.
Dow Performance Silicones' Silastic LC-3335 grade is formulated specifically for designers seeking to combine the performance benefits of silicone with the design and processing advantages of the additive manufacturing process. The firm said the 50 Shore A hardness LSR allows new design options in areas where traditional LSRs are used, including automotive, consumer care, cookware and lighting.