How hard could it be to make a collapsible silicone container? Turns out, it’s really, really hard — collapsible containers have rigid guidelines. Just ask [Eric Strebel], who failed dozens of times before finally getting it right (video, embedded below).
[Eric] started with an SLA-printed two-part mold and a silicone formulation with a Shore durometer of A 40 — this is the measure of hardness for silicone, polymers, and elastomers in the sense that the piece will resist indentation. The first twenty-four attempts all came out looking great, but not a single one of them would collapse and stay collapsed.
Eventually, [Eric] went back to the drawing board and played with the angles of the flex points, the thickness of the living hinges, and the wall thicknesses, which have to be strong enough to stay collapsed.
For attempt #25, [Eric] took the part out of the mold about three hours in and tried curing it in the collapsed state. Persistence paid off, and the part finally collapses and stays that way. Get yourself some popcorn and check out the fail-fest after the break. You know what we always say — fail fast, fail often.
[Eric] has made many molds both from silicone and for silicone. Some of them are really big!