Print – Wax – Silver

Here is an example of a 3D print being used to create a wax pattern for casting, then being cast in silver. The model for this was a prop I downloaded from the History Channel page for the TV series ‘Vikings’. The ring featured in a number of episodes.

Once the stl was downloaded I 3D printed it in castable resin on my Form 1+ printer. I then did an experiment where I made a vulcanised rubber mould using the print rather than casting with it. I was surprised but very pleased that the print survived the heat & pressure of the vulcanising process and allowed me to make some great waxes.

The next step was to cast the waxes and I did so a few days ago. All I’ve done with the silver is remove the runner point & given it a polish.


3D printing at Caledonian Casting

My 3D printer is a Formlabs 1+. The machine builds models from a liquid resin, curing (solidifying) it, layer by layer, using a UV laser. This allows for very thin layers and in turn extremely detailed models. It can print in layers from 25 to 200 microns thick. To give an idea of scale 1000 microns = 1mm. 100 microns is the average thickness of a human hair!

There are drawbacks to all this detail though, printing at high resolutions like 25 microns takes a long time, tying up the machine, using energy and, therefor, costing more to produce prints. In general I tend to print at 50 or 100 microns, this gives a great level of detail and is relatively quick although it can take over an hour to print a ring at these settings.

There are different resins available for the printer, however, I’ll concentrate on the castable resin in this post because that was the main reason I bought the machine. Printing models in castable resin means that I can produce a castable master pattern from a digital file, usually a .stl file, then it can be cast in the traditional ‘lost wax’ way. If it’s a one off pattern then that would be the end of it, however, if it’s something that is being ordered in multiples then the first cast would be used to create a mould for wax production (after clean up).

Some advantages to using resin?

  • It’s cheaper than wax 3D printing, generally a ring sized resin model will cost between £10 & £25 while, in my experience, in wax this can be anywhere between £60 to £100 and above.
  • Resin models are stronger than wax, less prone to breaking while handling or sending to clients for approval.
  • Resin prints are generally faster to produce.
  • Some resin models can be used to produce vulcanised moulds – they can also be used to produce cold moulds.

Any disadvantages? Well, yes, there are some.

  • There is a post print curing process that must be completed before a model can be used to cast. This involves a chemical cleaning bath and some time spent under UV light.
  • Resin uses a different investment burn out cycle to wax meaning they can’t be done together.
  • I also use a ‘steam out’ cycle with wax before the burn out cycle, this doesn’t work with resin.

As I’ve said above, the resin can also be used to produce vulcanised moulds without the need for casting. I’ve made these at normal vulcanising temps without degradation to the models although they’ve all been fairly robust models so far, however, I’m about to start experimenting with rubbers that vulcanise at low temperatures so finer models may be able to be vulcanised.

So that’s about it for this post. I hope it’s been of interest and given an insight into resin 3D printing for casting. If you want to know more then just get in touch or ask a question in a post comment. I’ve put some wee images below to illustrate some of the things I’ve talked about above. ’til next time, happy making 🙂


If you’re reading this…

….it means that the site is live and I’m open for business. So, WELCOME

The last few weeks have been really busy. As well as testing equipment and getting the workshop ready for casting I’ve been working on a few CAD & casting commissions so there hasn’t been much time for getting to grips with putting own jewellery on the site and it’s taken a back seat to the workshop set up work, however, I’m sure that now I’m officially open I can get on with that side of things.

Please have a good look round the site, I’d be happy to get any comments you might have on it, I did the site myself and while I’m clearly not a web developer, I’m quite happy with it!

Obviously if you want to discuss casting or CAD then give me a shout, it’s the reason for all this work after all. There are loads of ways to get in touch, all the details are on these pages, email, phone, Facebook & other social media sites, like or follow my pages to stay up to date with developments, and if you wouldn’t mind, share links etc with all your creative friends.

’til next time…