Additive manufacturing is still a young material transformation technology compared to injection moulding, extrusion or even the calendaring industrial processes. However, thanks to the tremendous progress in this field in hardware, materials and developments of the digital world, this technology appears to be one of the best responses to new industry challenges: development acceleration, mass-customisation, Industry 4.0, etc.
If we focus on materials for 3D printing, one can see that the majority of raw materials are rigid materials, such as metals, thermosetting resins etc. even though the need for soft materials is now a reality for Additive Manufacturing with functional materials.
Today, flexible materials are mainly used for prototyping, but often with strong compromises to the physicochemical and mechanical properties of the parts.
In this lecture, Elkem proposes a solution to this challenge thanks to new silicone elastomer technologies dedicated to additive manufacturing.
Printing processes and physicochemical properties will be reviewed to show why silicone elastomers are suitable to meet the needs of 3D-printing soft materials.