Formlabs announces Elastic Resin, the latest addition to its library of Engineering Resins for the Form 2 desktop stereolithography 3D printer.
Producing quality elastic materials was once only possible for expensive industrial equipment. That’s changed with 3D printers, such as the Form 2 and advances like Resin Tank LT, which make it possible to produce elastic parts on a desktop in hours.
This resin is the most pliable of Formlabs Engineering Resins, with a Shore durometer of 50A as well as high elongation and energy return. Key benefits of parts made from this material are that they look and behave like a molded silicone part, yet are durable enough to use for multiple cycles. Soft stereolithography resins can be a challenge as these properties of high elasticity but resistance to tearing during printing are typically diametrically opposed.
These elastic resins suit applications in wearables, medical models, robotics, and special effects props that were more often produced through mold making or outsourcing.
For companies like NeoSensory, a designer of wearables that create novel sensory experiences, and RightHand Robotics, a designer of robotic grippers for manufacturing lines, the ability to rapidly prototype silicone parts before manufacturing is key to successful development of final products with the potential to change an industry.
Engineers and product designers have traditionally used moldmaking techniques (such as RTV molding, transfer molding, and injection molding) to create short runs of prototype parts in silicone. Directly printing these parts saves time and labor, enabling more iterations and shorter product development cycles.
Elastic Resin, for example, can be used to produce batches of small to moderately sized soft flexible parts and iterate changes in design between and within batches. Moldmaking may be preferable for producing larger numbers of the same part, or for using the final production material during later stages of development.