We generally think of 3D printed components as being hard bits of plastic, because for the most part, that’s what we’ve got loaded up in our desktop machines. But outside of the normal PLA, PETG, and ABS, you can also print with various flexible filaments such as TPU. This can be handy for producing custom seals, or rugged enclosures.
But what if you want to make very thin rubberized parts? In that case, the 0.4 mm nozzle on most desktop machines will be your limiting factor. But not so with the method [Daniel Bauen] demonstrates in his latest Engineerable video. The trick here is that the printer isn’t producing the final product — it’s making a water-soluble plug that has been slightly undersized for the application at hand.
Once the plug has been printed, [Daniel] sprays it with several coats of Plasti Dip. This builds up a rubberized coating on the printed part, and once it’s reached the desired thickness, the whole thing gets tossed into an ultrasonic cleaner to break up the filament. What you’re left with is a silicone-like part that has the same shape as your original print, but is far thinner than anything you could have extruded normally.
So what is [Daniel] looking to accomplish with this technique? We’ll admit the shape of the object is rather suggestive, but in that case, the dimensions just leave us with more questions than answers. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the next video, which we’re told will see the plugs get dipped into latex.
If subtractive manufacturing is more your speed, you can always freeze a sheet of rubber and use a CNC to cut custom parts out of it.