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Apr 12, 2017

The Number ONE Rule Of Silicone!!!

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Test, Test, TEST!!!

 

Platinum silicone* is a wonderful, amazing, versatile material. You can cast it in a mold, you can thicken it and build it up over a form, you can thin it to let it flow into a smooth, glass-like surface. It's relatively inert and non-toxic, wonderfully translucent, and a little tends to go a long way.

But aside from being a bit messy it has one major flaw...

... inhibition.

No, your silicone is not shy. Silicone is normally comprised of a liquid A part and a liquid B part. When mixed together a chemical reaction occurs which solidifies the viscous fluid into the stretchy, rubbery silicone we know and love. Inhibition then, is when something (usually a foreign chemical in the mix) prevents the proper reaction between the A & B parts and keeps the silicone from solidifying. In other words - a big goopy mess.

The extremely frustrating thing about inhibition is it seems to be caused by extremely random things! Something as simple as wearing latex rubber gloves (latex and silicone are mortal enemies!) while handling and mixing your silicone will cause inhibition.

Which is why it's extremely important to ALWAYS DO A TEST FIRST!

Need to wash off your silicone pieces before painting/adding further detail etc? Test that soap first! Aloe inhibits silicone (see? Told you it was random) and guess what? A lot of soaps have aloe in them.

How do you do a test? While wearing vinyl or nitrile gloves (which don't cause inhibition) wash out a small mixing cup with the soap you are thinking of using. Rinse well. Then mix a small batch of silicone in the cup. It doesn't have to be big at all - less that a teaspoon in total will more than suffice. Leave it for the recommended curing time (which will vary depending on the brand and type of silicone you are using). When you return, give it a poke. Has it solidified? Yes? Great - go ahead and use that soap! No? Then something in the soap is causing inhibition and you need to switch brands.

You need to do a test every time you add an untested substance into your process. Just because one type of soap works doesn't mean all of them will. Ditto with glues, if you are attaching foam pieces together before you coat them in silicone.

T'is a far, FAR better thing to sacrifice a teaspoon or two of silicone then forge on ahead and potentially ruin ALL your expensive silicone and all the time and effort you have put into your piece.

If you learn nothing else about silicone your mantra** should always be - TEST! TEST! TEST!

 

 

* This article talks mainly about Platinum-based silicones. Tin-based silicones are less prone to inhibition but have their own unique challenges. ** A mantra which, by the way, will serve you very well for a lot of non-silicone stuff too! Scientist-like habits can lead you to great artistic triumphs!

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  • Hello, Do you have problems making silicone moulds from grey v3 resin? My molds sometimes have surface irregularities caused by the silicone non solidifying properly. My cleaning cycle is a 15 min IPA bath after print > 1 to 2 hours of UV curing > scrub the part with a soft brush and new IPA. Anyone knows if this is the best cleaning or if the resin has any chemical that inhibits the silicone from catalysing? Thanks Please help I didn't find the right solution from the Internet References: https://forum.formlabs.com/t/silicone-mold-from-grey-v3/1623534734 Virtual Reality Device Video
  • There are two main "families" of silicone - tin-based (also known as "condensation cure") and platinum-based (or "addition cure") silicone. In each "family" you can find a wide variety of silicones, with many different grades of hardness, softness, curing and working times, elasticity etc. But in general, all tin-based silicones share a certain set of properties, and all platinum-based share certain properties. Tin-Based Silicones : are generally less expensive than platinum-based silicones are not prone to inhibition (ie have environmental factors prevent curing) are usually used for making molds (although they can be prone to shrinkage) are NOT suitable for use against the skin even in a cured state cured pieces have a short "library life" - meaning that after a few years the piece loses its elasticity and becomes brittle. Platinum-Based Silicones: cured pieces do not become brittle or break-down over time making them suitable for long-term art pieces and molds are prone to inhibition (ie a variety of factors can prevent the silicone from curing) skin-safe once cured (certain types can be applied and allowed to cure directly on the skin) show very little shrinkage when used to make molds once cured, platinum pieces have greater temperature and chemical durability than tin-based pieces
  • "RTV" stands for "Room Temperature Vulcanization" - which basically means that the silicone does not need to be subjected to heat to cure. Heat can still be used in the process (for instance it will speed up the curing of most platinum-based silicones) but is not required. At a normal room temperature and when mixed according to their directions RTV silicones will set without the addition of heat. This makes them the silicones most readily available to most artists, mold-makers, etc.