Reebok needed a better prototyping material for its footwear, sandals, and athletic equipment; and 3D Systems, a provider of modeling, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing solutions, responded to its request. DuraForm Flex Plastic is a flexible and soft, tear-resistant, thermoplastic elastomer material suitable for complex functional athletic gear prototypes.
“Our application is different than most,” said Gary Rabinovitz, rapid prototyping lab manager, Reebok. “We build one or two confirmation samples out of it. The parts are very flexible and can be painted, so we get the look and feel of a real shoe.
Unlike earlier generation materials, DuraForm produces durable parts. Users can add color, improve burst strength, and make a watertight barrier. The material comes in five colors, which include black, red, yellow, blue, and natural. They can also be mixed to make custom colors.
Reebok produces parts at a 0.15 mm (0.006 in.) layer thickness. This compares to other flexible materials. DuraForm, however, has a good surface finish, and what’s more, parts with fine-feature details are possible. For other applications, the plastic can reduce layer thicknesses from 0.15 to 0.1 mm (0.004 in.), comparable to a 33% increase in resolution.
Additionally, DuraForm parts withstand repeated bending and flexing, as well as harsh functional testing. By varying machine process conditions, this material can consistently make parts with Shore A hardnesses between 45 and 75.
“DuraForm Flex Material gives us a much more consistent and stable material for our flexible parts. We can setup large complex builds that run overnight with the confidence that we will have good results in the morning,” added Paul Bates, Director of Advanced Process Engineering for Reebok International.
DuraForm is also suitable for the production of prototype gaskets, hoses and seals, and for the complex production and prototyping of plastic parts.
: Design World :
Filed Under: Materials • advanced