DUESSELDORF, Germany—Sterne Elastomers, a niche company that has grown from a startup to a global firm with 7.5 million-plus euros in sales, has another niche technology to add to its portfolio.
The Cavillon, France-based firm, which was founded in 1996, is touting its 3D silicone additive printing technology as a niche-based offering that could prove profitable in the markets it serves, particularly the medical field. The firm, which specializes in liquid and high consistency injection molding silicone production, officially unveiled its product at the K Show.
The 3D printing technology uses silicone that is 100-percent UV cured, with no infill, and officials with the company say the technology can serve customers well who have designed a new device but may not want to invest in injection tooling to produce a working sample.
According to Anthony Pellapol, materials engineer for the firm, the process utilizes fused definition modeling technology, or FDM, as well as stereolithography rapid prototyping technology, or SLA, to print the product layer by layer, to a minimum thickness of 0.25 mm. By next year, he hopes to work toward a 0.1 mm printing layer.
“We've developed this for a year and a half,” Pellapol said, as visitors surrounded some of the products and the machinery at the Sterne booth at K. “Everyone is talking about additive manufacturing. We heard about UV curing, and as we offer silicone, we needed to find something to do with this silicone. When we heard about UV curing, we thought maybe that's the point.”