Tony Holtz, Tech Specialist.
You’re invited to join Proto Labs’ live webinar presentation on rapid manufacturing. The free webinar will be hosted by our technical specialist Tony Holtz and last around 45 minutes with a Q+A to follow.
You’ll hear about the different industrial 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding processes at Proto Labs, and learn which one is best suited for your next project, based on the project’s material requirements, quantities and lead times.
TITLE: Choosing the Right Rapid Manufacturing Method for Plastic Parts
DATE: Thursday, April 21 at 1 p.m. CDT
Unable to attend? Register anyway and we’ll email you the recording afterward!
To decrease weight and potentially cost, you can replace metal with plastic on certain parts through 3D printing and injection molding. At Proto Labs, we use industrial 3D printing process stereolithography (SL) to produce thermoplastic-like parts that have a nickel coating on the surface. This offers the increased strength of aluminum die-cast components, without the weight. With injection molding, the introduction of thermally conductive plastics has broken new ground when looking for heat dissipation of expensive heat sinks.
Stereolithography parts built with SLArmor have a metal coating applied over a thermoplastic-like base.
SLArmor involves a ceramic-filled DSM Somos material, which has a metal coating applied to achieve the look, feel and, most importantly, comparable strength of aluminum without added weight. SL is a cost-effective prototyping method for initial parts that mimic metal before moving to higher volumes of die-casted parts.
The material properties of SLArmor are greatly improved in regards to heat deflection, tensile strength, elongation at break and elasticity. The chart below shows exactly how the material relates to die-cast aluminum in three different thicknesses that can be applied based on geometry of SL parts. Note that the thickness of the nickel plating may vary on each part due to the ability to apply the coatings.
Dow Corning recently published a comprehensive white paper on the use of aluminum tooling for moldable optical silicone. It examines two big questions:
- To achieve a high-quality finish on the molded parts, what type of optical-grade surface finish is required for the tooling used to mold the silicone optics?
- Can this be achieved with an aluminum injection mold or is tool steel required to provide parts with an optical finish?
Proto Labs’ aluminum tooling is a reliable indicator of future optical silicone moldability.
Read why integrating optical silicone into your development cycle with rapid injection molding is an effective strategy, and why aluminum tooling is a reliable indicator of future moldability.
DOWNLOAD WHITE PAPER HERE.
Why use optical moldable silicone? It’s a relatively new material to the market, but it is quickly gaining popularity as a replacement for glass components in many optical and lighting applications. Its benefits include:
- heat resistance
- durability for use in outdoor and automotive applications
- design flexibility for fine features
- an ability to combine multiple parts into a single unit
Learn more about optical silicone with our “14 Reasons Why Optical LSR is Good for Lighting Applications” design tip.
As with any manufacturing process, injection molding comes with its own set of design guidelines, and design engineers who understand these best practices will increase their chances of developing structurally sound and cosmetically appealing parts and products.
Learn about different cosmetic issues that commonly occur on injection-molded parts, and how to eliminate them to improve overall part appearance and performance. This month’s tip discusses sink, warp, flash, knit lines, drag, vestiges, jetting, splay and other cosmetic issues.
Read the full design tip here.
The big lighting and optics show, Strategies in Light, starts today in Santa Clara, California. We’ll be talking with designers and engineers over the next three days about how industrial 3D printing, machining and injection molding processes can help them develop well-designed, more efficient products and devices. Track us down at booth #102.
One topic that is certain to dominate the conversation is the relatively new thermoset material, optical liquid silicone rubber (LSR), which has many advantages during lighting development versus plastics like polycarbonate and acrylic.
Optical liquid silicone rubber prototype from automotive company MagWerks LED.
Optical LSR is changing the lighting industry with its superior material and optical properties that improve:
- heat resistance
- UV stability
- light transmission
In addition to ongoing optical LSR discussions in the booth, we’re co-hosting a presentation with Dow Corning on prototyping with optical moldable silicone on Wednesday, March 2 at 1 p.m. in the presentation theater. Proto Labs’ global segmentation manager Jeff Schipper and Dow Corning senior application engineer John Nelson will cover why optical LSR works well for prototyping and low-volume injection molding and the results of recent research on implementing aluminum versus steel tooling when molding with optical silicone.
We hope to see you at the show!