How to start
In this article, we'll explain what you need to make your own task trainers using 3D printing and silicone. Although it's geared toward UK-based users, you may be able to find alternatives where you live.
1. 3D printer
3D printers have improved a lot in recent years. They're faster, easier to use, and more affordable than ever before. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get great results. Look up rankings for the best printers, like the ones on the All3DP website, and check out YouTube for recommendations. For most of our work, we use Ender 3 S1 printers. They're easy to set up and we've had no problems with them, even though we use them all the time, day and night.
There are lots of filaments to choose from, but we suggest starting with the simplest one, which is called PLA. It's easy to print with, but can be brittle. At Decent Simulators, we use a stronger version called PLA+. We haven't had any problems with it, even after doing tough mechanical tests. We printed molds with it months ago and still use them regularly without any signs of wear and tear.
You might not be able to find the exact silicone we use, but it might be close enough. Remember that you can always change silicone’s properties with various additives, like silicone oil, softeners, or thickening agents.
Most of the silicones we use are platinum cured, low viscosity, and soft (A10 shore hardness or less), with a short working time (30 min) and curing time (2-3 hours).
Safety is extremely important. While silicone is usually safe to use, it's always a good idea to read the labels and material safety data sheets of the products you have. Always wear gloves when using tools, especially when opening molds. Even blunt items, like screwdrivers, can cause serious injuries if you use enough force - we know way too much about it.
5. All the additional stuff
All the additional parts. They may not be essential, but they are really handy: screwdrivers, pigments, flocking, syringes, mesh, mixing sticks, cups/jars, scales, water pump pliers, scissors, paper towels, fairy liquid, and apron.
6. first casts
If you are interested in our task trainers, but had no prior experience with silicone, we suggest starting with our free models before purchasing any files. This way you can test the process and ensure you can get satisfactory results before moving on to more complex models.
Making your own task trainers has many benefits. Although it requires some time, the ability to create high-quality clinical skill trainers can enhance your courses tremendously. You can have advanced models for a fraction of the cost, and you can quickly repair and maintain them, which is just as important.
We offer one-day on-site courses on the complete process of making task trainers using 3D printing and silicone casting.
If you are interested, please get in touch with us!