Jan 28, 2015 | By Alec
With an internet full of 3D printable designs for fun toys and original accessories, it’s clear that the potential of your 3D printer is only limited by your own creativity and ambitions. And yet practically, most of us continue to rely on a desktop 3D printer and either PLA or ABS filament. But did you know that you don’t have to spend thousands on a SLS or SLA 3D printer to add some variety to your prints?
Nowadays there are a variety of other filaments available, with varying properties, that can all be just as easily extruded with your regular 3D printer. Surprisingly many of them have been developed by German inventor and filament specialist Kai Parthy, such as the LayWoo-D3 wood filament, the flexible BENDLAY flex filament and even LAYFOMM: a filament that creates very solid and durable objects that gain sponge-like qualities when soaked in water. But the filament wizard is already back for more, having just unveiled his latest creation: the MOLDLAY wax filament.
As he explained to 3ders.org, MOLDLAY is a type of plastic with distinct wax-like properties. Specifically, it becomes liquid (with a thin oil viscosity) when heated up to about 270 degrees Celsius thanks to some specially chosen types of oily paraffin. At the same time, it’s very rigid and solid at room temperature, and becomes extrudable when heated up to 170-180 degrees Celsius (keep your printbed at 40 degrees Celsius.
So you might wonder, what can I possibly do with a filament that responds so very differently at different temperatures? Specifically, it’s perfect for two creation techniques: lost mold (or lost wax) casting as well as permanent mold casting. Both are traditional creation techniques that are time-consuming and complicated, but will now become easier than ever by using a 3D printer.
While most of us are printing final products in ABS or PLA, this filament will thus allow you to add a whole new dimension to your creative process. Especially lost mold casting is an interesting technique. Essentially, you can easily and quickly print molds using this MOLDLAY filament that can then be used to cast objects in metals like gold, silver, brass, tin, or in resins such as silicon, 2component-polyurethanes, gypsum and others.
As Kai illustrates in the clip below, what you need to do is print a specific object you’d like to create in MOLDLAY filament. Kai chose for a chalice, but the same can be done for rings, necklaces, you name it. MOLDLAY, that has a very low warping effect, is perfect for these detailed objects that need to be perfect. These objects can then be encased in a concrete mold. When heated up in an oven, the wax-like filament becomes highly viscous and runs out of the mold, leaving a perfect outline of whatever you’re trying to make. This can then be filled with molten gold, silver, resin, or whatever you’re working with. Once cooled, you need to simply remove the concrete mold by with a hammer and chisel (or a citric acid bath) to get your hands on the product you’ve made. While not 3D printing the final product itself, the 3D printer thus becomes a tool for making quick and simple molds.
Alternatively, you can also use it to print a permanent mold, as Kai has done for the letter M. This mold can then be filled with resin and be allowed to set. Then simply remove the MOLDLAY mold and you’ll have yourself a perfect resin object without the need for an expensive SLA 3D printer.
Now of course this takes quite a lot of preparation and dedication to do, and might therefore discourage many Sunday-night hobbyists. But it nonetheless adds a whole creative dimension to your regular desktop 3D printer and is perfect for producing metal or resin objects on a budget. Kai hopes to be able to sell his MOLDLAY filament through filament dealerships everywhere by early February, and will be available in coils of 0.25 and 0.75 kg, as well as in a 2.2 kg spool option. Prices are currently unknown, but will be revealed as soon as possible. Check with your local dealer, or redirect them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in 3D Printing Materials
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Artiz wrote at 4/16/2016 5:47:26 PM:
In reply to Keith... if you are needing small exit holes (sprues) from your cast then the more that the wax can 'run' is crucial... particularly for small prints like jewellery... the low burnout temp also makes it far more convenient... my old AGA oven struggles to get to 800-900C and a decent 100C burnout oven usually costs more than £300-400. Sounds like an excellent product but at twice the price of a cheap PLA a new burnout oven might even workout in the long run? They need to make it an equivalent price not more expensive... you only end up with a 'void' after all is said and done?
alpay kasal wrote at 2/1/2015 4:11:40 PM:
Not to mention... If you make your mold in pieces (ie: front and back or several chunks depending on your model) the you have a reusable plaster/cement mold for many pours. I use nuts, bolts, and large washers to keeps it all together as rightly add possible. Must ppl use clamps. I use my rep2 to do 2part polyester often.
Lord Binky wrote at 1/29/2015 7:51:35 PM:
I personally print my model, clean it up, and make sure the surface finish is what I want, then make a silicon mold of the piece (equivalent of their permanent mold). As they have shown the casting takes on the surface texture of the mold. If you want to minimize the finishing needed on the cast parts, you have to clean up the print either way, and I think it is much easier to clean up the item and make the mold from that, than try to clean up the mold and try from there. Also some resins/epoxies get quite hot as the cure which could make for a short lived permanent mold.
Keith wrote at 1/29/2015 9:27:41 AM:
Also, unless i'm missing something, using PLA would eliminate the need to melt out the wax instead just burning it out clean so the style of your mould does not matter too greatly (don't have to worry about if the wax can "run" out
JohnK wrote at 1/29/2015 12:36:40 AM:
For lost wax casting use plaster and not concrete. Easier to get off.