By Beau Muniz
Developing new process capabilities is always a great learning opportunity that expands our manufacturing portfolio and makes it easier to rapidly prototype a variety of products. This week we’ve been working on silicone molding. Through the development process we’ve learned a lot about the importance of removing air from your mold and silicone mixture.
The silicone we use is a two part solution that we add a thinner and colorant to. In the process of mixing a lot of air can get stuck in the silicone and leave bubbles in your molded part. One of the neat tools we have at FirstBuild to help solve that problem is a vacuum casting system. The system pulls a two part chamber down to a very low vacuum, removing all the air from the mixture and mold. After it pulls down the vacuum it stirs the solution in the top chamber to release any air bubbles trapped in the silicone. Once the solution is bubble free we pour it down a funnel that drops the air free silicone right into the mold. When we finish the pour we release the vacuum and the ambient air pressure forces the silicone into the rest of the mold. After a quick bake in the oven we’ve got a cured part that is ready to be used.
These mats will eventually integrate with the Paragon Induction Cooktop and allow the user to have another tool for precise temperature control. Stay tuned for more on this project.