While moulds are a great way of producing a series of silicone items in an efficient and cost-effective way, producing the moulds themselves can present challenges. However, scientists are working on innovations in making moulds that will lead to faster and less expensive options.
Researchers in Italy and Austria have been focusing on developing metamoulds. These are rigid moulds which can be used as a kind of template for high-quality silicone moulds. Techniques such as 3D printing are employed for these metamoulds, which draw on interactive processes and computer graphics to generate these tools for making optimal moulds at competitive prices. For more on a recent development in 3D printing, see this report from The Guardian.
Automated extraction methods
While making the mould can be complex, removing the finished item from the mould requires expertise too. Until recently, taking a completed object out of its mould could be a slightly fraught procedure. Removal often needed the mould to be cut open by a skilled craftsperson with many years of experience in placing the correct amount of force to extract the item without damage. Thanks to new tools, this can now happen with automation.
With the aid of computer software, the shape of the desired item is loaded into the programme, which then figures out what the minimal amount of cutting needed is, and where this should be placed for the best results. This also reduces the number of mould pieces needed for the exercise. In addition, the software can also generate a metamould which is 3D printable. When silicone is inserted in the metamould, it can then be used to make a number of other moulds.
This method is regarded as being highly valuable in areas such as arts or crafts and jewellery, where a number of quality pieces are wanted as part of a modest series.
If you are interested in finding out more about silicone moulding and how it could help you, then it would be a good idea to contact a reputable operator in the field such as http://www.meadex.co.uk/silicone-mouldings where you can discover more about the options available.
Versatile silicone is a material of the future that is available today. As the processes for shaping it become more sophisticated, the ways in which this flexible substance can be used are going to expand exponentially.