Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

3D printing is a recent technology that has quickly become popular for its ability to create objects from scratch. While 3D printing is often compared to traditional manufacturing methods such as molding and casting, these two processes have several key differences.

This blog post will investigate the pros and cons of 3D printing and silicone molding and recommend the best method for your business.

Defining Silicone Molding and 3D Printing

Both silicone molding and 3D printing are two different manufacturing techniques with the same goal – producing a three-dimensional product. They begin with a digital 3D design but will head off to two different manufacturing paths.

While these two are different, they have their advantages and disadvantages. Companies must understand each process to determine the best application for their requirement. Let us begin by defining them.

Silicone Injection Molding

Silicon injection molding begins with feeding the silicone material into a heated barrel. Next, the heated silicone is mixed and moved toward the mold using a screw. Finally, the molten material is injected through a nozzle into the mold and transported via a conventional gate and runner system into the mold cavity.

The vacuum can let out extra air through vents as the silicone enters the mold. Maintaining the mold’s pressure and temperature enables the silicone to take on the proper shape and harden swiftly. The mold opens, and the part is evacuated once the portion has sufficiently cooled.

The following silicone charge can now be applied to the mold. The silicone and any additives, an injection molding machine, and the mold, which is usually created from metal, are the essential tools required for silicone injection molding.

Liquid silicone rubber, often LSR, is frequently used in injection molding. Compared to other molding techniques, silicone injection molding is a rapid process that produces high output, making injection molding a more effective and affordable solution.

Silicone injection molding offers exceptional brand consistency and part reliability with products that are identical from part to part.

3D Printing

A three-dimensional object can be created using the 3D printing process from a computer-aided design (CAD) sketch. Additive Manufacturing (AM), which includes 3D printing, is a group of technologies that starts building an object in three dimensions layer by layer.

The 3D printing device uses CAD data to build an object in three dimensions by adding consecutive layers of liquid, powder, or other substance. Metals, polymers, and composites are just a few of the many types of materials that may be used for 3D printing. These are known as filaments.

Spools of filament and the 3D printer are the only pieces of hardware needed for 3D printing, resulting in inexpensive initial investment costs. In addition, manufacturers can create parts on demand thanks to 3D printing.

Spools of filament and the 3D printer are the only pieces of hardware needed for 3D printing, resulting in inexpensive initial investment costs. In addition, as this process only needs a new CAD input to manufacture a new product and does not require retooling or machine changes, 3D printing enables manufacturers to fabricate parts on demand.

Finally, because 3D printing is an AM technique, it produces less waste.

How Do Silicone Injection Molding and 3D Printing Compare to One Another?

Since they are both suited for various manufacturing scenarios, 3D printing and silicone injection molding do not compete for the same projects. However, here are some instances where each method makes sense from a business standpoint.

Injection molding is frequently the best option when producing runs with dozens or even millions of identical parts in medium to large volumes. Larger production runs are required to balance the tooling cost on a price-per-component basis because injection molding tooling is frequently an expensive investment.

Since goods are sometimes molded in minutes or even seconds after the tooling is constructed, injection molding is difficult to beat in terms of time per part. Therefore, the method of choice for producing parts against other parts is injection molding since its products are always smooth.

Finally, silicone injection molding is a tried-and-true technology with years of expertise to rely on.

Prototypes and small batches are often the lowest volume runs when 3D printing is most cost-effective. In addition, since no significant mechanical changes are necessary, this method gives clients flexibility and the ability to adjust the design by just changing the CAD inputs.

Since there is no lead time needed and no need for unique tooling, this method is very appealing when a quick turnaround time is required.

In some circumstances, combining 3D printing and silicone injection molding is the most economical. To “bridge” the gap between design and complete manufacturing, for instance, 3D printing can be used for prototyping. In addition, it will help get the products to the market faster while tooling for injection molding is in the works.

Silicone injection molding will be employed for large production runs when the tooling becomes available.


It’s not more a matter of asking, “Which way is better? ” But more importantly, “Which approach is best for us?”

Injection molding and 3D printing both have advantages. Both are excellent answers to today’s manufacturing problems, boosting output when conventional machinery cannot do so on its own. Even together, producers can use these technologies.

Over the next decade, each production technique is expected to increase significantly. The world will observe how each production process develops as adoption soars.

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