Structur3d’s Inj3ctor is designed to replace short-term or manual processes that currently exist in industrial injection molding. It is said to be the first additive manufacturing system to combine the principles of injection molding with 3D printing.
According to Structur3d, the Inj3ctor uses curated material cartridges to mix flexible 2-component materials and inject them into any customizable shape, enabling turnkey manufacturing of rubber materials in small quantities.
Charles Mire, CEO and Co-Founder of Structur3d, said, “This overcomes the challenges manufacturing faced with the adoption of 3D printing. Currently, 3D printed rubbers do not meet required manufacturing standards, which in some ways has deterred the rubber industry from finding a legitimate place at the table in advanced manufacturing. The Inj3ctor platform combines desktop injection and 3D printing to deliver a viable solution for manufacturing functional parts. This approach, combined with professional quality materials, means that the models are suitable for every step of manufacturing, from prototyping to production. “
The Inj3ctor platform was created with contributions from Stanley Black & Decker. Harry Zhong, technical director of the infrastructure innovation team at Stanley Black and Decker, said, “We are always looking for new tools to turn our ideas into reality. The biggest challenge that Structur3d technology solves is the speed and ease of use of working with rubber or elastomer materials. “
Zhong added that he sees Structur3d driving prototyping by “opening up the arsenal we have available to tackle rubber components that are both easy to use and turnkey, with real, usable geometry. Be able to prototype using the actual material you normally use in production. ”
With manufacturers increasingly producing custom and on-demand products, 3D printing is expected to play a bigger role in manufacturing. However, 3D printing alone is not enough to develop factory-quality flexible parts, said Andrew Finkel, chief technology officer and co-founder of Structur3D. “That’s why Structur3d introduced the Inj3ctor platform to inject 3D-printed shapes with factory-grade liquid materials to create flexible parts,” he said.
According to Finkel, product developers “can design a highly detailed shape using standard CAD software and 3D print the part using standard, durable or soluble plastic. Then users can choose from tens of thousands of liquid rubber materials and customize them based on the durability, flexibility and cure time they want. After programming the mix ratio and injection volume, the Inj3ctor fills the mold and creates a fully customized, flexible product. “
Mire noted that prior to Inj3ctor’s release, manufacturers “either hand-cast or invested in expensive, mass-produced tools – if they haven’t completely eliminated the part in the design. Therefore, this development will have an impact on many industries including automotive, industrial products, aerospace, energy, medical and various consumer products for which the buyer can customize part of the design.