Silicone for 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

What if you could combine the unique versatility of Silicones and with the flexibility of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing? As one of the world’s leading fully integrated silicone manufacturers, Elkem Silicones has a clear objective to unlock the potential of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with Silicone Elastomers opening a wide range of opportunities that are impractical or even impossible using traditional processing techniques.

Designs that were challenging or impossible to produce with traditional manufacturing methods are now possible with Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing. From prototypes to low volume batch size runs, Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing is already a more interesting option.  

Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing being part of Industry 4.0 will allow digital, connected and distributed manufacturing become a reality, allowing you - as a manufacturer - to use more efficient and sustainable production methods. Furthermore, with 3D printing you can personalize, or mass customize products in a cost-effective way.

We at Elkem Silicones will help you leverage Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing technologies with our AMSil ™ series of Silicone Elastomers to maximize your products potential and your teams’ capabilities. We support you to bring your design to life based on your inspirations and specifications.

See how we can support you in close partnership, based on decades of experience, through high-performance materials, Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing technologies, Application engineering expertise and Services

Technologies

Silicones Materials from Elkem Silicones have become the material of choice since over 70 years in many applications where high performances are required. Their unique properties allow the use of silicones in diverse industry sectors as healthcare, cosmetics, transport, electronics, textile and many more.

Silicones are an extremely versatile material and exist in various forms as e.g. Fluids, Elastomers, Emulsions, Paste, Grease etc.  They offer a host of outstanding characteristics both physical and chemical. Their use in Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing is primarily to produce parts and objects with elastomeric properties.

Additive Manufacturing also known as 3D Printing describes a process to create a 3-dimensional object by successively adding material layer by layer using digital information instead of molds and tools. Various technologies exist to form the layers and to create the final object.

The advantages and benefits for Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing are primarily

  • Personalization & Mass customization: individually tailored products can be produced without volume constraints
  • Freedom of Design & Complexity: produce complex geometries, add augmented part functionalities, accelerate time-to-market for innovations
  • Supply Chain & Production Flexibility: reduce inventory by printing on demand, optimizing turnaround times and efficient material use, leading to cost savings and a more sustainable production

Elkem Silicones has developed a production process based on extrusion principles called Liquid Deposition Modeling (LDM). This process allows the use of a new series of customized silicone materials: the AMSil™ series for use by Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing. You can design high-performance parts with 100% silicones with complex geometries, overhangs that are impossible to achieve using traditional dies molds and machining in order to create elastomeric parts/objects by direct printing

This process works at Room Temperature and as an initial step before the finishing by a post-curing cycle. If required more advanced post-processing procedures have been established giving the final touch to the parts/objects and to ensure that they meet the required specifications.

The LDM process allows you to take advantage of the unique properties of Silicone Elastomers in an almost unlimited number of existing and new applications with final part properties comparable to traditional processed Silicone Elastomers combined with the advantages of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing enhancing your competitive edge.

For more information, read about our materials and physical properties.

Elkem Silicones technical experts have decades of experience in silicone chemistry, formulation and have developed extensive know-how for the design and built parameters as well for the processing. They will be able to give helpful information on optimizing your design to meet tolerance limits for build volume, wall thickness, and more by using the Design Guidelines for Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with silicones.

Check out our services for more information.

Materials

Silicones are known as a problem-solver, and they are the material of choice for a wide variety of demanding industries and environments. They are a unique category of high-performance materials with outstanding characteristics (both physical and chemical) including

  • Thermal stability over a wide range of temperatures
  • Resistance to oxidation, ozone, UV exposure
  • Biocompatibility
  • High compression and shear resistance
  • Dielectric properties

Silicones are manufactured and supplied in various forms. From Fluids, Emulsions, Resins, to Elastomers, Pastes, Greases etc. in 1-part and Multi-part systems always tailored to provide the solution to meet the high-performance specifications in accordance with the customer requirements.

In order to combine these unique properties of Silicones and the advantages of Additive Manufacturing Elkem Silicones has developed a new series of customized silicones: the AMSil™ series especially designed for use by Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing.

The AMSil™ series is based on the historical experience of Elkem Silicones in formulating Silicone Elastomers for use in many different industry sectors, markets and applications.

Utilizing tailored formulations based on our trusted Bluesil™ and Silbione™ family of materials the AMsil™ series is optimized to deliver final parts that meet the most stringent specifications.

For more information, refer to our properties page.

The AMSil™ series consists of a specific technology portfolio designed for Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing.

  • AMSil™ 20 000 series. This series finds its use in industrial applications. The series comprises 1-part and multi-part systems.
  • AMSil™ Silbione™ 24 000 series. This series finds its use in restricted medical applications. This series comprises multi-part systems.

These series are intended to be used by Liquid Deposition Modeling (LDM). A technology based on extrusion principles.

The AMSil™ series will allow the creation of parts with complex geometries and/or special features in a unique material, Silicone Elastomers, with outstanding physical and chemical characteristics meeting your application and business needs.

 Use the advantages and benefits of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing 

  • Freedom of Design, allowing specific Designs for Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing
  • Accelerate Time-to-Market for innovations, easier prototyping and short runs
  • Digital Inventory Management of spare parts

Learn more about the technologies and the potential applications for Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with 100% Silicone Elastomers.

Properties

Silicones are a surprisingly versatile material.

Silicones combine the best features of minerals and plastics. They are different from other organic polymers, and notably plastics due to the presence of silicon, a semi-mineral element and their Si-O-bond. The bonds that the silicone creates with the oxygen to form the backbone of macromolecules are exceptionally stable: they are much more difficult to break than carbon-carbon bonds in organic polymers

Silicones have unlimited structural properties. Silicones have an advantage over natural silica because their silicon carry organic groups that contain carbon. According to the nature of these organic groups, as well as production and formulation conditions, the products obtained are extremely varied: their final texture can be fluid, viscous, pasty, elastomeric or rigid.

This means that silicones outperform most other polymer and place them among the best high-performance polymers available.

In order to keep these unique properties Elkem Silicones has developed a new series for the use of Silicones to produce elastomeric parts/objects: the AMSil™ series.

Through the AMSil™ technology portfolio Elkem Silicones provides products in these series with typical physico-chemical properties as:

  • Hardness Shore A: 10 – 70
  • Tensile Strength: 2 – 10MPa
  • Elongation at break: 200 – 800%
  • Tear Strength: 10 – 40N/mm

The physical properties of parts printed with AMSil™ silicones by Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing are comparable to those of conventionally produced parts. AMSil™ material formulations and the post-processing steps are optimized to produce parts that meet your most stringent specifications.

Keep reading to see examples of the properties of 3D printed parts.

Tensile test measurements based on a dog-bone sample with a 1-part system of AMSil™ 20 000 series.

Traction Sweep

Example of  Tensile measurements of a 2-part system of AMSil™ 24 000 series

Mechanical properties, effect of the printing process

  • Bi-Component polyaddition system rubber, Thermal Curing up to 200°C / 8 hrs
  • Traction (500 mm/min.) on 3D-printed dogbone specimens (Infill 100%)

Mechanical properties, effect of the printing process

Applications

Elkem Silicones now offers the AMSil™ series of Silicone Elastomers allowing the design flexibility of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing combined with the versatility of Silicones as a unique high-performance material.

Whether you want to manufacture Silicone parts with complex geometries, lattices, micro-features, integrated assemblies and more – Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing will allow you more design flexibility. At the same time, you can benefit from the inherent production efficiency of Additive Manufacturing by eliminating the need for tooling and accelerating design iteration. Compared to subtractive manufacturing techniques, Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with AMSil™ may even help reduce material waste. And by printing parts on demand, you can avoid the need for extensive (and expensive) inventories.

Creating and manufacturing specific parts that are impractical or impossible to produce by conventional processing techniques as injection or molding can now be manufactured on demand, creating a new world of possibilities – and a new way of doing business. Whether you need rapid prototyping, small batch manufacturing or serial production, Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with silicone elastomer formulations from the AMSil™ can help bring your design to life.

Read more about our  servicestechnology or keep  reading to explore the possibilities of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing with the AMSil™ series of silicone elastomers.  

Industries

For over 70 years, Silicone materials from Elkem Silicones have outperformed most other polymers in demanding environments due to their high-performance characteristics. This makes them very often the material of choice for diverse industry sectors as Healthcare (medical and paramedical), cosmetics, transport (aerospace, automotive etc.) electronics, textile and many others.

In the Healthcare sector silicones from Elkem Silicones have been known under their Silbione™ brand for many years. They have been the material of choice in many markets as Orthotics & Prosthetics, Medical Devices, Dental, Audiology and their applications.

By creating the AMSil™ Silbione™ 24 00 series Elkem Silicones has developed a specific technology range for Healthcare application in combining the expertise and reputation of the Silbione™ brand with the knowledge in Elkem Silicones’ Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing brand AMSil™.

In the industrial sector the AMSil™ 20 000 series comprises formulations designed for applications in industry sectors as diverse as Aerospace, Automotive, Equipment, Electronics.

The possibilities for these applications are virtually endless: complex shapes, miniaturized structures, and other nonmachinable features, combined with Silicones unique properties.

The parts listed below are just a few examples of applications for silicone elastomers in Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing:

  • Seals & Gaskets
  • Valves
  • Hoses
  • Dampers
  • Grippers
  • Closures
  • Hearing Aids
  • Liners
  • Prosthetics
  • Anatomic Modelling