Pros and Cons of 3D Printing With Rubber

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You may not be aware that you can 3D print using a flexible filament made of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) which is a blend of hard plastic and rubber. This material has an elastic texture that can be stretched easily. There are however some disadvantages of using this material which I will highlight now, along with some advantages.

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Pros:

  1. An advantage of printing with rubber is that it is soft and flexible. Clearly this is a necessary factor in order to print.
  2. Secondly, it has a long shelf life. This means you won’t have to throw it away after storing it for a while, which will potentially save you money.
  3. It has great vibration dampening which means the system you use to print in 3D will utilise less energy in the process.
  4. It has good impact resistance meaning it won’t break easily during the printing process.

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Cons:

  1. Despite its flexibility and softness, it can be difficult to print with. This obviously is a holdback when thinking about whether to use rubber to print in 3D.
  2. It can blob and string easily which can make the saved energy from the good vibration dampening a waste as you’d have to redo the printing in order to get the desired product without errors or imperfections.
  3. It can be difficult to use on Bowden extruders.

To conclude, it definitely depends what type of equipment you have, and how much experience you have with using a variety of materials in 3D printing. If you are interested in using rubber, and are looking for a company who specialises in UK Rubber Moulding, I recommend contacting Meadex Rubber Moulding.

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