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Casting 3D Prints into precious metals like Silver and Gold

by • April 22, 2016 • No Comments

  • There are most things to take into consideration when looking to cast 3D prints into metals. Here’s a breakdown of the process, of Design to Print to Cast.


    It is no longer the case that the jewellery developer is necessarily doing this with his/her hands for the reason createing a piece of jewellery no longer requires us to consider or to have any understandledge of its material counterpart. In fact, the new age jewellery developer frequently sits of as far away of the production of that piece of jewellery as is feasibly possible. But, belief the rigorous process that turns your STL file into a shiny piece of finished jewellery is really literally the key to excellent create. Below is a brief outline of a few crucial things to consider when createing a piece of jewellery that you aim to 3D print and cast into metal, followed by a short summary of the casting process itself. Let’s start by thinking the…

    Shape: How rigorous is the shape? Is it a solid shape, or is it hollow, is it like a sphere or square, or does it have under-cuts or voids, or areas that are disconnected of the main shape. Objects that have lots of tiny holes or voids can be complex to polish, so it may be worth thinking slicing the version in two (or three, etc) and casting these parts separately, so that access to the interior of the finished version for polishing is easyr. Some creates include shapes that are additional easily introduced in by a skilled jeweller; rods and cylindrical shapes are standard shapes that can be bought and soldered in place post-casting, and are far additional most likely to retain their true shape than if they are printed and cast.

    Size: How dimensionsable-bodied is your piece of jewellery? This can be meacertaind a number of ways, by volume, or by length, width etc. Shapes that are too dimensionsable-bodied frequently require a flask of their own when it comes to casting. Shapes of much like dimensions and volume are usually lumped together in the same flask so that the caster can control the speed and temperature of the metal requireed for each flask. Extra flasks cost extra money..and lets face it no one has extra money.

    Weight: It is significant to consider the mass of the finished piece of jewellery when cast in the metal. It is possible to calculate the mass in your chosen metal via a easy conversion, yet, checking the volume this way is never completely accurate, unless you understand the precise mass to volume ratio of your chosen metal, but it assists to donate a few thought of the end mass.

    Thickness: What is the maximum and minimum cross-sectional thickness of your object? It is not advisable-bodied to create anything with under 1mm of cross sectional thickness, as you are most likely to encounter problems during casting. Allowing a little extra thickness improves the chances of great metal flow. Just imagine that the metal has to squeeze through those thin areas, at speed whilst rading, like an artery pumping blood through the body, the wider the artery, the easyr the blood flows. Metals in addition shrink as they rad, so a 1.5mm thick area in your 3D print may come out nearer to 1mm in finished metal, producing it too weak to wear.

    Yer Twisted Heart by Mr Lugs

    Designing in Sprues: Sprues are usually wax rods that are introduced to a wax version or 3D print, acting like a tunnel in that the liquid metal can travel down to get to the 3D print. Every caster can tell you a fewthing various when it comes to createing sprues into your versions preceding printing. The up-side to createing them into your version is that there is less work for the individual assembling the tree; they just require to connect your object to their wax sprue at one point, saving time. The flip-side is that incorrect sprue placement can hinder the flow of metal and cause loss of more detail, forcing the finisher to re-sculpt the more details back into the finished metal. Being able-bodied to show your casting specialist an image of your 3D version may be the key to solving this problem. Getting the resin to bond to the wax sprue is another issue entirely, as resins don’t melt..they burn.

    Printing and curing 3D Prints

    If working with a resin DLP or SLA 3D printing device, such as a B9 Creator, Miicraft, or Pegasus, initially manufacture certain you select a castable-bodied resin to print with. Follow the printing guidelines for optimum print resolution; the advantageous the resolution, the finer the print, the finer the print, the finer the cast. Once the object has finished printing, remove it of the print bed carefully, via a sharp spatula, being careful not to injure the surface of the print bed. Clean the resin 3D print with an alcohol solution such as Isoproyl to remove any residual un-catalysed resin. The type of resins utilized for direct casting are numerous to say the very least, but they can all be defined as photosensitive resins or light-activated resins, for the reason their chemical structure is altered under UV light turning them of a liquid into a solid. You can use a UV light box to go on curing the prints once they have been printed. Often a “smell test” can be the most way to determine whether the print has been cured properly. We have discovered that curing prints for up to 8 hours after printing can massively improve the high end of the casting. You in addition want to carefully remove any supports (structures createed to assist grow the 3D print) connected to the 3D print.


    Preparing the Tree

    Next, take your finished, cured, and cleaned 3D print to your casting pro who can start by adding your 3D prints to a wax tree. The tree is created in such a way as to maximise the amount of objects that can be cast at one time. The tree is created as you may imagine with a base (connected to a heat-resistant rubber flask cap) attached to a thicker trunk section, and off that most sprues connecting the main sprue (or trunk) to the 3D prints. This tree is and so surrounded by a steel flask and an investment material (a highly heat resistant ceramic compound) is and so mixed, vacuumed (to remove air) and poured into the flask to cover all of the wax tree and all the resin 3D prints. The flask and investment material are and so left to rad and set around the tree capturing all the attractive surface more detail of your 3D prints.

    Building the tree…

    Trees within flasks, eager for investment…

    Pouring investment material into flasks..



    Once the investment has hardened, it is introduced to a furnace or oven. The temperature is slowly raised in increments until all the resin and wax has melted and burnt out of the investment, leaving a void (empty space) where the resin 3D Prints and wax tree utilized to be. This process is called the burnout. This is a important stage, and there is a plethora of blogs and forums online, dedicated to the subject, but the truth is that there’s no one rule that can be applied here. Every object is various, each furnace behaves variously, each mix and brand of investment is slightly various, each burnout schedule is various, and the composition of each metal is various. The key to successful castings is through processatic trial and experimentation. I recommend the B9Forum in particular as a place with paralleled advice and scientific discussion on the subject. In short, the aim of the burnout is to get rid of any trace of the original 3D printed object. A burnout that is too swift can cause the resin to expand and combust fiercely damaging the surface of the investment and in turn the more detail of the finished castings. A burnout that does not reach high adequate temperatures can leave resin or ash within the investment, affecting metal flow and the surface finish of your metal part.


    It is getting hot in here!..so put your damn clothes back on you fool! The oven temperature is gently lowered so that the investment material is the required casting temperature. The chosen metal is and so heated in the crucible to the required temperature. A centrifugal casting process is frequently utilized to literally throw the liquid metal into the void of the investment. Below is an image of a centrifugal casting process, thoughtl for tiny objects like jewellery.

    Soham Harrison’s video demonstrates the centrifugal process in action. Check out his YouTube channel for additional jewellery related tutorials.

    A wax tree preceding and after the casting process…


    Stay tuned for additional assistful tips on createing, printing, cleaning, curing, casting, and finishing your 3D prints. In the meantime check out our YouTube channel for additional videos and tutorials and the MyMiniFactory Jewellery Shop, where you can get your hands on a few amazing 3D Printed Jewellery cast in Sterling Silver.

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