In today’s world, where innovation runs rampant for both businesses and consumers, one critical development that has become significantly vital in transforming lives is 3D printing.
Coming a long way from its small-scale roots, 3D printing has evolved exponentially in recent years and constantly proves itself as a solution that many can rely on. From manufacturing parts of all sizes for countless pieces of equipment to giving amputees limbs that restore their quality of life, confidence, and functionality, 3D printing technology has shaped industries aplenty.
If you dabble in the world of parts manufacturing or you have a passion for building things, the technique in question undoubtedly poses an array of benefits worth looking into. While there are all sorts of different materials that can be 3D-printed nowadays, there’s one particular option that’s well worth looking into: rubber-like materials.
What Is 3D Printing?
To best understand the kind of difference that rubber 3D printing can make, let’s first go over the process itself to best understand it. 3D printing is used to create shapes, pieces, or components through powder grains or liquid molecules.
Once the raw materials are loaded up, a 3D printer “prints” an object layer by layer according to the instructions generated from CAD data. The end result is a solid object in three dimensions. After the base figure is created, further steps are taken to refine the product through processes like trimming and painting.
Why Isn’t It Possible to 3D-Print with Rubber?
Rubber cannot be used as a material for 3D printing processes because it possesses properties that cannot be influenced by external factors. In 3D printing, the raw materials go through vulcanisation and heating, which warps and burns natural rubber.
Although rubber possesses characteristics like flexibility, hardness, and durability that make it a “dream material” for many, its inability to be preserved in a fluid state makes it a pipe dream of sorts. Fortunately, however, it is still possible to achieve the same effect with the help of rubber-like 3D materials.
What Makes Rubber-like Materials So Special?
Rubber-like materials come in two distinct forms: filaments (which are primarily used) and resins (which aren’t as commonly used as rubber but are used quite frequently in 3D printing as well).
When you use either type of material, the outcome gives a similar feel to real rubber. Beyond mimicking feel, however, the special part about using filaments and resins is that they take on similar properties and have the same tensile strength and durability!
Today, one of the most common forms of “faux rubber” used heavily across a wide range of applications is Thermoplastic elastomers (also known as TPE). In terms of tangible results, these materials are used to create items like shoe soles, flip-flops, and industrial applications like sealing rings—and this is only a glimpse of what’s to come!
Although 3D printing with rubber was once considered an impossible outcome because of its natural properties, modern developments have made it possible to still achieve desired effects without using rubber itself. Through the help of filaments and resins, it is now possible to create any product or part while having the same properties as the “model” material!
If you’re looking for reliable 3D printing services in the UK to help with your rapid prototyping work, 3D Quick Printing is here to help. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services!