Silicone molds are now very common nowadays. From the kitchen for baking to crafts for molding shapes, there seems always to be a use for silicone.
But, the process of designing and creating these molds is not as smooth and effortless as it looks on the outset. For it to be what it is, it first had to go through an exact and accurate process. And, a difficult one at that. With its use in highly critical fields such as medicine, creators and manufacturers can’t afford to make even the slightest mistake.
For a little bit more information about silicone molding, here’s a quick guide on the basics.
1. Silicone Molds Can Be Made Through DIY
Silicone for molds can be bought at the store. But, for a more precise or personalized approach, a DIY project can also be possible. Especially for those that don’t mind doing a little craft or for those looking for a more personalized mold.
The great advantage of doing a DIY is that it can come up cheaper, too. Whatever shape or mold desired, it can be done.
That said, here are two recipes for a DIY silicone mold:
- Silicone and liquid soap. Fill a bowl with room temperature water. Pour liquid soap into the water. Keep stirring until the soap is completely dissolved. Add in pure construction silicone in the soap and water mixture. Knead the silicone until it’s no longer sticky. Remember not to take it out of the water. Gloves may be worn by the maker, too.
After five minutes of kneading, form this mixture into a ball. Press it against a flat surface to flatten it. The mixture should still be thicker than the mold that the maker intends to form it into. Press the desired item on the silicone mixture. Wait for it to turn solid.
- Silicone and cornstarch. Squeeze the silicone into a bowl, enough to cover the object that’s desired to be molded into. Pour in double the amount of cornstarch. To add more color, mix it with acrylic paint with the desired color.
Knead the mixture, until the putty is created. Roll it into a disk, much like a plate or creating a pizza dough. Press the item desired to be created into a silicone mold, and leave to cure for 20 minutes.
2. The Initial Design Considerations Have To Be Given Priority
Silicones have many different uses. Especially in the process of creating silicones for medical purposes, a very accurate creation process is necessary. There should be no room for error at all.
Three of the design considerations that should be well thought of are consistency, tearing, and shrinkage. Here’s why:
- Silicone is an elastic material. When it’s removed from its mold or plate, it’s meant to stay intact. If it breaks, then it means that the consistency is wrong. When used for highly essential purposes, such as medicine, the silicone has to be perfect.
- Hot tearing can happen with silicone. Especially during the ejection process, force is needed due to the elasticity of silicone. More so when the product is in bulk in a factory. Hence. the difficulty also of going for automated processes.
- Silicone has a high rate of shrinkage. Shrinking at around five to seven percent, it has a higher shrinkage rate compared with thermoplastic materials. Hence, the need to factor this in as well.
Else, the silicone will end up smaller than what’s needed. The solution to this shrinkage is through the creation of prototypes. This cures out minor possible errors or details before mass production is done.
3. Take Note Of The Purpose Or Application Of The Silicone
Silicone molds have many different purposes. Some of the most common ones include household applications, kids’ toys, baking or cooking tools, candle molds, and medical uses. Out of all these applications, medical use is the most pressing. If the silicone mold is intended for medical purposes, extra caution has to be exercised.
The application or use of the silicone has a significant role to play in selecting the various grades of the silicone to be used.
For instance, with medical use, the silicone will go through a lot of processes, such as sterilization. Before the silicone can be applied to the human body, it has to be clean and safe. But, this means that the silicone will be under extra heat. Hence, in the creation of the silicone molds, durability has to be ensured such that it can withstand any possible conditions that the silicone will be placed in.
One of these factors is called the durometer of the silicone. This refers to the hardness of the silicone. Silicone grades have different durometers and variation, which is usually dependent upon its application or use.
One of the breakthrough ways that silicone is used in the body is through ultrasound patches in the body to monitor blood pressure. With use as important as this, no mistake can ever be made. Accuracy is a hundred percent required.
4. The Part Size Of The Silicone Is Also Necessary
Each silicone design goes through a different manufacturing process. There are those that are on low volume production, while there might also be silicones that are mass-produced. This is important to take note of as the curing and the part size of the silicone differ in this matter. If not matched correctly, the silicone will end up having inferior quality.
When silicone is mass-produced, an extended period of curing is necessary. This is done to ensure that the silicone is able to withstand the faster production process. Hence, the cost also spikes up.
5. Silicone Molds Have Numerous Purposes
It’s very important to have the silicone mold design a hundred percent accurate. In fact, today, silicone molds have numerous purposes. These purposes can go from as simple as household use, to as complicated and critical as medical use. If the purpose of using silicone molding design is to venture out into a new business, here are some of the top uses of silicone molds.
- Lunch/snack trays for children
- Food preparation, for busy parents and working adults
- Freezing food or drinks
- Organizing small items
- Baking and cooking
This information is more than just an enumeration. It helps give manufacturers an idea as to how to create their designs depending on the purpose they intend on selling it for.
6. The Aesthetics Also Important
In the manufacturing of silicone molding design, the aesthetic factor also has to be given much weight. Even if the company may be creating the best quality silicone mold in the market, if it doesn’t look presentable enough, it won’t get bought. With the expensive process it went through, that makes the company uncompetitive in the industry.
Thus, it’s important to factor in the overall look of your silicone mold’s aesthetic. Here are some ways that a better-looking silicone mold can be assured:
- By taking into account the type of material that’s used and the effect it’s going to create on the finished product
- By studying the different interactions that are going to occur through the molding processes
- By using different types of mold finishes and tooling
- By creating prototypes of each silicone mold that’s going to be manufactured
When these are factored in, blemishes and other physical irregularities on the finished product can be avoided, which improves aesthetics.
7. Silicone Is Used For Molds With These Advantages
The molds that are out in the market today are made from either two materials: plastic or silicone. Out of these two, silicone molds are most sought after by consumers.
When properly cared for, silicone molds can last for many years. Hence, its popularity among manufacturers to produce, and among the consumers to purchase.
Silicone molds can be advantageous because of the following:
- The castings coming out from the molds may be shiny. This is an advantage to users who are more inclined towards a shiny and glossy finished product.
- With a model, it’s very easy to customize or personalize. The creation of virtually any design of a silicone mold is possible.
- Silicone molds are very flexible. This makes it easier to remove items that are being molded or cast into the silicone.
- Silicone molds are stainless and odorless, which make it the perfect choice for medical and food purposes
- Silicone molds are hypoallergenic
While it has its disadvantages, too, these disadvantages can easily be addressed, if a proper and well thought of process is done. At the end of the day, the choice also is a matter of personal preference of the buyers. But, with the right techniques, silicone molds can end up to be a top preference, for its quality, aesthetic and ease of use.
8. Proper Storage Is Necessary To Keep Its Quality
When put out on display shelves to be sold, the silicone molds also need proper care. Because of the delicate process that went into the creation of these molds, with improper storage, it’s also expected that the quality of the molds will be hampered.
As a quick guideline, here are tips to follow in storing silicone molds:
- Keep the molds in room temperature
- Store the molds away from direct sunlight
- Keep the molds in an airtight container or plastic
Especially when the silicone molds that are designed are intended for resale, the quality should, as much as possible be preserved. Else, all the delicate processes that went into the creation of the molds will only prove to be futile.
9. Silicone Molds Should Meant To Last For Years
The life of the silicone mold created by manufacturers should be meant to last for years – at least twenty years, to be exact. When it’s given the proper care and attention that it needs, this timeframe is the average lifespan of a silicone mold.
But, this timeframe is also highly dependent on the quality of production and on the materials used. This only highlights the importance of ensuring that every step on the production line of the silicone mold is accurate.
Here are some factors that can make or break the quality of the silicone mold created:
- To prolong the life of the mold, have a silicone release after every casting is made.
- Less abrasive materials during the production process will also be better on the mold’s quality and durability.
- During the curing process, the materials also have to be as hot as possible. This helps ensure that the quality of the mold is harder.
10. Silicone Molds Are Also Now A Favorite In The Healthcare Industry
Years back, silicone molds were mostly seen only for household and domestic use. Today, it plays an even more important role since it’s already being used in the healthcare industry.
If the purpose of creating silicone molds is for healthcare, the attention to its quality must be highly emphasized. The standards are greater, and so is the safety concern as well.
That said, the reasons why silicone molds are a favorite now in the healthcare industry include:
- In comparison with other molds, silicone molds generally have low shrinkage.
- In comparison with plastic or metal, silicone molds have higher biocompatibility, which means that it interacts better in the human body,
- It has a longer shelf life
- It can be steamed or sterilized
- It has resistance to ozone and corona
In casting, baking, and other activities requiring a mold, silicone molds are always preferred. This stems from the basic fact that these molds are very easy to use. And, it’s also more effortless to release the things that the maker is trying to mold into. Nowadays, its use in the healthcare industry is more widespread.
Because of its ease, errors are less frequent. Hence, better results are expected than with any other mold in general.