Silicon Tubes for Respirator

Healthcare systems manufacturer reduces per-part cost 10X by harnessing new open additive ecosystem

The Challenge

A leading manufacturer of respirators needed to produce 100 translucent, durable, yet pliable 1.5-inch tubes with multiple grooved bends and a 1.5 mm hollow core for use in one of its ventilation products. The client had explored traditional manufacturing using injection molding but discovered that the tubes were nearly impossible to fabricate due to their very small hollow core. Faced with a four-week lead time and a quote of $19,000 to fabricate the two tools needed for injection molding, the customer turned to the experts at InterPRO Additive Manufacturing Group for their problemsolving capabilities. “We knew we could fabricate this part using an Origin 3D printing system, but we were at an impasse because we didn’t have an additive material with the properties this part demanded,” explained Dan Straka, general manager of InterPRO.

The Solution Enter LOCTITE®, a world leader in adhesives and sealants, now with an extensive portfolio of materials for additive manufacturing. In the past, manufacturers have faced signifi cant limitations trying to 3D print end-use products because of material capability. “Most 3D printed materials are not production worthy because they are not temperature resistant, not tough enough, not translucent, or lack other required characteristics,” said Cindy Deekitwong, director of Global Marketing and Strategy for LOCTITE’s 3D printing business. “But under the new open materials ecosystem, we can and are developing groundbreaking materials to address the specifi c needs of the market, including resilient elastomers, heatresistant polymers, biocompatible formulations, and other high-performance materials.” For this project, LOCTITE furnished InterPRO with a low viscosity silicone that cures into a tough silicone elastomer.