Silicone is often used as the material for the facepiece of a full-face respirator gas mask due to its durability, comfort, and hypoallergenic properties. It provides a pressure-free fit, while the large, optically corrected lens ensures a clear and undistorted view. Silicone facepieces are widely applied on gas mask respirators.

One customer who deals with safety protection products came to us for a custom silicone full-face respirator gas mask. The customer had two physical silicone facepiece samples but no 3D drawing or other files can be offered.

Customer’s needs: They need us to copy the design exactly the same as the samples. We should be responsible for drawing, tooling, and silicone facepieces mass production.

Challenges faced:

1. The facepieces are assembling parts, they should be highly precise.
2. The structures are complex, and professional measuring equipment will be needed to work out the drawing.
3. Mold structure should be professionally designed.
4. Long tooling process time needed.

The Response:

1. 3D drawing:

To create a 3D drawing from a physical sample, we use a process called 3D scanning. Some customers are not cleared with this process, let’s explain in detail. Here are the general steps involved.

3D Scanning:

  • Use a 3D scanner device to capture the physical sample’s geometry and texture.
  • Move the scanner around the respirator gas mask, ensuring that all surfaces and details are scanned.
  • The scanner will capture the mask’s shape and convert it into a digital 3D model.
Data Processing:
  • Transfer the scanned data to a computer or compatible software.
  • Use 3D scanning software to process and refine the captured data.
  • Clean up any imperfections, fill in gaps, and align the scanned data to create a complete and accurate 3D model.
Exporting the 3D Model:
  • Once the 3D model is finalized, export it in a compatible file format such as.STP or.IGS.
  • Ensure that the exported file contains all the necessary details and is suitable for further use in 3D design or manufacturing software.
Refining the 3D Model (Optional):
  • Further refinement of the 3D model is needed.
  • This can involve smoothing surfaces, adjusting dimensions, or making any necessary modifications to the design.

The final drawing was sent to the customer for confirmation, LOGO or branding can be added if needed.

2. Tooling:

Tools and dies are essential for producing parts and components with precision and consistency. The silicone facepieces tooling process typically includes the following 3 steps:

  • Tool Design and Engineering:

Our professional engineers create detailed plans and specifications, often using computer-aided design (CAD) software. Tool design and mold layout design are both critical aspects of manufacturing processes. Well-designed tools ensure precision and accuracy in the manufacturing process, resulting in consistent and high-quality products.

  • Material Selection
Choosing the right material for the tool or die is crucial. The material should have the required strength, durability, and wear resistance for the intended application. Considering the complexity of the facepieces and the large order amount, we chose #718 steel for the mold.
  • Machining and Fabrication:
Due to the deep structure and complexity of the two facepieces, they took around 25 days for tooling. To save time, we have 2 CNC machines each working on one facepiece. The two tools were finally finished in 21 days.

3. Sample making and confirmation

The sample will be produced normally within 3 days after the tool is ready. The facepieces were made in FDA food grade silicone in black color. Then sent to the customer for confirmation. The customer confirms the samples are approved, mass production can be arranged.

4. Mass production

The mass production process includes compression molding, trimming and finishing, 100% quality inspection, and packaging. The whole order takes around 2 months. Then well-packed cartons are delivered to the port as the customer requires.