Role of Silicone Rubber Mold in The Manufacturing Industry
At Creatingway, we harness the power of the vacuum casting process to make great parts. We additionally use silicone rubber molds to make the process even faster and more accurate. The entire process is automatic thus having a shorter cycle time and lower price of the final product. Parts made are great for testing the functionality of your design and pre-production needs. Here is further insight into how silicone rubber molds are essential for you.
What Is Silicone Rubber?
Silicone rubber is a polymer of silicon, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. It is a repeat of these four elements to make this elastomer compound. This makes silicone rubber versatile in several industries due to its good physical and chemical features. Molds from this polymer are non-reactive and stable. Also, they possess the ability to resist extreme temperatures and conditions. Did you know silicone does not melt at a temperature of 250oC? This is the melting point of most plastics. It can also maintain flexibility at temperatures as low as -70oC. therefore, silicone rubber provides these excellent benefits for vacuum casting:
- Great sealing ability
- Cheap and fast to manufacture
- Great electrical insulation
- Good service life
- Ability to be molded into various shapes
- Odorless and less toxic
Why Choose Silicone Rubber Mold for Vacuum Casting?
First, to make the silicone rubber mold, it is in the form of a liquid. This allows for stabilization into any shape using mold holdings. We carry out this process under high temperatures and load. Fortunately, the silicone rubber doesn’t reduce in size once molded. Therefore, the mold doesn’t have leaches and extract once the silicone hardens into shape. The silicone rubber can also take up a large spectrum of colors while achieving different levels of hardness. It also can reproduce fine details while keeping versatility and durability. This only increases its ability to be selected in many molding applications.
What Is the Process of Making the Mold?
Here is a step by step series of making a silicone rubber mold.
Creation of The Master Pattern
This is the first step in making a mold. We create a master pattern using various modern rapid machining processes. Such as CNC machining and 3D printing. We have chosen these methods since they are faster, reliable, and cheaper options.
Designing The Rubber Mold
This step involves two main processes. First is the setup and second is the selection of the silicone rubber. The setup involves putting up the gates and vents. We do this even before we make the mold. the vent releases trapped air within the master pattern. Whereas, the gate functions in allowing the casting material to flow into the mold. What determines the size and location of the gates is the volume and shape of the master pattern. Thus. The larger the volume of the master pattern, the bigger the gate size.
There are two types of silicone rubber to select from. Namely, the condensation cure and addition cure. They vary in properties and features. In picking the right silicone rubber, we have to consider the amount of impurity in the mold. It has to be resistant to inhibition that comes from the impurities. Thus, we initially do a patch test to confirm the presence of contaminants.
Making The Mold
Mold making follows after the creation of the master mold. Silicone rubber bears an important capability in its duplicate accuracy. It maintains an extreme level of detail from the master pattern. At Creatingway, we use two main mold making processes. They are:
Single Stage Mold
The single-stage mold is a common silicone rubber molding technique. It involves suspending the master in a mold box. Then, we fill the box will with liquid silicone rubber until full. It then cures for a while. Lastly, cut the box open to remove the mold. The benefits of using this method are its time efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The multi-stage mold is the second way of making a silicone rubber mold. It is more labor-intensive when compared to the single-stage mold. However, the method permits better control in making the parting line. It can also make molds of bigger parts because of its better stability. The process begins by first putting a parting line using modeling clay. Then we half fill the molding box with liquid silicone. After curing is complete, we invert the molding box and remove the modeling clay along with the silicone. We replace the frame and proceed to pour the second half of the mold that completes the process.
What Are the Silicone Rubber Applications in The Medical Industry?
Liquid silicone rubber has an impressive level of electrical, thermal, and chemical resistance. This makes it useful for sterile procedures that require sterile equipment. Also, due to its inert qualities, it can be placed inside the body. This is without the risk of an adverse reaction occurring. It is due to complete curing capabilities. Lastly, liquid silicone does not degrade easily when exposed to high temperatures. Thus, it can handle the sterilization [process needed to make the products safe for medical use.
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