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.
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!
Designing luminaires or lenses with clear materials? Our tip this week looks at the material selection and surface finishes available for prototyping and low-volume production of lighting applications.
Prototype built in clear WaterShed XC 11122 material with stereolithography.
If you haven’t considered using additive manufacturing (3D printing) for your lens design, you may want to check it out. Proto Labs offers stereolithography (SL) with three options for clear parts.
- Somos WaterShed XC 11122 — ideal for lens and high-humidity applications
- 3D Systems Accura 60 (10 percent glass-filled) — creates a clear part with slight blue tint and high stiffness
- 3D Systems Accura 5530 — high temperature resistance, suitable for under-the-hood applications
We’re trading in the Midwest sleet and snow this week for some much-appreciated sunshine at a mix of industry conferences. If you happen to be in California or Arizona right now, look for us.
Pacific Design & Manufacturing
PD&M is co-located with Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M), both underway in Anaheim, California (Feb. 10-12). If you’re here, come find us in booth #4049 to see some of the exciting things we’re debuting at the show (besides our completely revamped booth)! We are officially launching turning capabilities within our CNC machining service as well as one- and two-day quick-turn shipment on 3D-printed parts built in stereolithography (SL) and selective laser sintering (SLS). We’re also participating in two panel discussions on accelerating speed to market by using 3D printing for rapid prototyping.
As LEDs increasingly supplant metal filaments in light bulbs, optical LSR — in addition to plastics like polycarbonate and acrylic resins — is replacing glass in many optical applications including lens covers and light pipes.
Optical LSR is a transparent, flexible thermoset material that is replacing glass in many optical applications.
The flexible, transparent material is second in clarity only to glass; it can withstand heat in proximity to high-output LEDs and operate in a range of ambient temperatures. Optical LSR is flexible enough for rough duty, outdoor and automotive use. It also allows for very flexible design including accurate replication of fine features. It can support minor undercuts and negative draft without the need for side-actions, and both thick and thin walls. Designs in this material can often integrate multiple parts into a single unit, combining for example a lens, a clear lens cover and a sealing gasket, reducing the bill of materials for a final assembly.
Proto Labs stocks Dow Corning MS-1002 LSR, a material that has been engineered for molding finely detailed parts for LED applications. Read our full Design Tip to see how optical LSR might help on your next lighting project.