One of the most prestigious universities in the United States of America is concerned with the additive manufacture of moisture-curing silicones. In particular, a research group in Mechanical Engineering is faced with the challenge of creating individual gripper attachments made of silicone and, in this context, not to ignore certain requirements.
Especially in industrial applications, the requirements for individual components are becoming increasingly complex. Flexible elastomers have been used for a considerable time in soft robotics, as well as in pneumatic operating systems. In both cases, gripper attachments, which are specially adapted to a component, have to be produced in a complicated process. In addition, only a small range of flexible elastomers for 3D printers that meet the high requirements in terms of tensile strength, UV and chemical resistance exists. The challenge faced by the scientific staff was to optimize the gripper attachments bionically and to match the material properties to the application. The decision was made for the ViscoTec print head, which best met the requirements for the 3D printing of silicone.
Based on a 3D printer, moisture-curing silicone and the ViscoTec print head, basic tests were carried out to validate the optimal process parameters. At the beginning lines were printed to determine the relationship between volume flow, layer thickness and line spacing. Finally, the first functional components of the gripper attachment could be created. In a final proof, the printed parts were successfully tested for their usability.
By using ViscoTec printheads, the customer benefits from the following added value:
- 3D printing of a commercially available silicone
- 3D printing of bionically optimized components
- Reduction of the probability of failure of the gripper attachments through optimized bionic design