The 3D printable wax filament arrived. Shipped from MachinableWax.com in Traverse City, Michigan to UPS depot in McKinney, Texas in two days. There it got checked in twice (two stickers on box) and kicked around for another two days before home delivery. But UPS efficiency is another story.
The package was not double boxed. No problem. Just an observation. The box felt quite warm, above 100F when it reached my porch at 7:30 PM. That’s above body temperature. I had some concern about shipping wax filament in the summer. The picture shows a temperature reading (94F) I took about 30 minutes of receiving and opening the package. The roll was in the expected sealed bag with a desiccant packet.
No problem for the filament as far as I can detect. 100F is far below the melting point. Today the material temperature reading is a comfortable 78F
The product is apparently manufactured by Orion Composites and is called “Print2Cast” by both Orion and MachinableWax. The label states it is made in the USA.
I could not find much information on Orion Composites. One source seems to be makers of fiberglass boats in Knoxville, TN. Another is a maker of space flight capsules. I did discover a reference to the Orion Composites filament from (example) marketing materials posted on the Internet by an obscure marketing consultant. Perhaps Orion (whomever they are) decided marketing Print2Cast would be better if presented from a known machinable wax distributor.
In any case, the material has been available for at least 5 years. Many of the user reports I have discovered are NOT from people knowledgeable in Lost Wax Casting. They are 3D printer aficionados trying a new material. Some of them were apparently quite new to 3D printing in general.
The reason may be the "real users" have no interest or need to spend their time publishing their wax printing foibles and results on the web. Or there are no real users.
Basic extruding settings and print “rules” are published by the maker, so there is a starting point. Casting and burnout are the same as any other lost wax process. Good investment material and a 1350-degree kiln. There are no casting shortcuts.
I am dedicating a 3D printer to wax filament.
If it works at all as a method for producing wax casting models, I will find the combination of variables. My expectation with the FDM print process is that the print will not be absolutely perfect, ready to invest for casting. Wax is extremely easy to hand work. All wax models for casting need some hand finishing and detailing. I have those skills and tools. Separate parts can easily be assembled with a hot wax pen.
I follow the same detail process when using CNC machining to produce casting models. The machining (as with printing) is nothing but an intermediate process.
Lost Wax Casting is far more than print and cast. The 3D print is but one step. I believe this can be a good addition to my LWC process.
More to come…
This is a picture of the new filament I ordered from Machinable Wax. I have been a customer there since ~ 2012. I bought their wax for regular machining, well before doing 3D printing. Here is a link to a machining project when I first used machinable wax.
The spool picture shows the two sizes they make, 1.75 mm and 3.0 mm. They are full 1 Kg spools. Old machinable wax on my shelf doesn’t deteriorate (out of sunlight) so I hope this doesn’t. A Kilogram looks like a very long-time supply as wax is only suitable for making casting master models.
I don’t often purchase from Machinable Wax. Mostly buy small quantity wax from Rio Grande for jewelry CNC and hand carving. I remember when they (Machinable Wax) first started making blue wax in filament form, but never gave it much further consideration. I wasn’t doing 3D printing. So, just never give it another thought. They must be a small company and don’t do a lot of general advertising. Wax is a specialty market.
Wax is an excellent material to machine. However, it is not a good material for making anything durable. I have used it as practice material as shown in the link above, for my loco wheels. Also, very good for making master models for creating molds. But, certainly not good for most structural components. I think that is why some of the 3D print folks don’t understand the material.
As I said, I remember when Machinable Wax first offered wax as a filament. One of my first thoughts when I saw it was, “How does the wax hold together in filament form?” I still think that now, and I am about to find out. Reports are that it behaves better than TPU and other present soft filaments. From that information I assume it is useable. However, certainly not without some user finesse and care. Not for the first time 3D print neophyte.
I think it needs nozzles dedicated to wax only. It is a (relative) low melting point (140C - 150C) material. It won’t flush out PLA and other plastic residue in a multi material use nozzle. That may also be the issue many hack-a-way print guys don’t realize. Unpredictable flow due to nozzle contamination. (Only an assumption at this point by me…)
I have chosen the new Tiertime Cetus Mk III for my platform for a number of reason.
- Super accuracy XYZ axis
- Very close-coupled direct drive feeder
- Easily changed nozzles - changes full full path.
- 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 nozzle range (also a steel nozzle)
- Runs S3D gcode (also a fully editable Tiertime slicer called Catfish)
- Heated glass bed
- Very reasonable cost
Having changed and maintained extruder systems on all my other printers, The Cetus is pure pleasure on which to work.
Except for print bed size and some settings limitation with their UPStudio slicer software, the Cetus has always produced outstanding prints in PLA. I just re-affirmed using Simplify3D and it gives me total control of all variables, with excellent results. (Catfish is a standby slicer option)
MachinableWax filament prints at a low (140C - 150C) nozzle temp. Many Marlin OS printers block printing until a preset EXTRUDE_MINTEMP is reached. I expect I may have to override that issue with M104 and M302 commands before executing the GCode. https://marlinfw.org/docs/gcode/M302.html.
I have been able to dry-run test automatic extrude and withdraw filament at 145C (without filament) on Cetus with no complaints from the Cetus OS.
I have become a total Fan-Boy for the Cetus. I may be a bit over-enthusiastic… Ha!
I’ll never do large size prints for metal casting, so the Cetus print area is actually a benefit for me. Small footprint in my office.
I thought of just upgrading original MamaCetus (my Cetus printer name) to the present MK III and adding the heated bed. But the only parts not changed would be the rails, supports and case hardware. MamaCetus works perfectly well for PLA and I would have a box full of good electronics, power supply and machine parts. Better to have a fully functioning spare Cetus than a box of unusable parts. Investment was nearly the same since the factory has a $100 discount on the already reasonably priced Cetus Mk III.
Above is where I am presently located within my latest scheme. Waiting now on hardware and material.
I keep trying to find a real good application (justification) for 3D printing. I enjoy creating my own rules when others on the same path seem to have none. Must be some kind of pioneer spirit, Ha!
More info later, fer sure..
I have concluded the best low cost FDM 3D printer for small and very high-quality prints is the Tiertime Cetus series printers. They are made with the quality linear bearings and other quality parts required for accurate FDM printing.
Not perfect in every sense, but excellent quality and design when low hardware cost and highest print quality is desired.
Very high resolution in the .15 to .05 MM layer resolution requires very long print times. For this reason, such resolution creates a practical print time limitation, generally limiting printing to small volume models. Print a 250 x 250 x 250 MM model with 0.05 MM layers requires 5,000 layers! At a mere 1,5 minutes per layer that’s 125 hours or over five full days. (5.208 days to be exact!)
For this reason, there is no driving need to acquire a large volume printer when the desire is to print very high-quality small items. The Cetus envelope is 180 x 180 x 180 MM. A very reasonable size for small, high resolution FDM printing.
I own a resin DLP resin type printer that can easily exceed the resolution of FDM printers, but that print material comparison is not the point here. FDM is a much easier process for desktop and in-office production.
I am thinking 0.1 MM FDM is a good choice for master model making for lost wax casting. Using the available Cetus 0.20MM amd 0.40MM diameter nozzles and using layer heights down to 0.05 MM, very detailed and high-quality parts can be produced. Tiny layer lines will be present but can be reduced in post processing.
I haven’t explored the 0.20MM nozzle for some time. I used it once when I was very inexperienced with little knowledge of printing with this small size. I wasn’t interested in printing very slowly or producing very small models. I believe I was pushing the speed and I remember suffering some printing issues.
But for producing small silver and other metal casting models, I now realize the value of the smaller nozzle. I certainly will be testing this size nozzle again, soon. I don’t intend to make this my only nozzle choice as I have been producing excellent models with 0.40MM orifice and 0.10 layer heights. Some 0.20MM layers turn out very well too.
Let’s Do It!
A Return to ABS
Perhaps I should title this as a question, as it isn’t anything permanent. Nothing in 3D printing seems permanent for me. Always trying new and revisiting the old. This case I am returning to ABS after a good while away from using the material.
I had a partial spool of yellow ABS on the shelf for a couple of years. Just in the box with its bag of desiccant. The moisture issue in my opinion is far overblown (as most things these days). Here in North Texas, I don’t live in a humid tropical jungle with constant high-level saturated air moisture.
What is critical is the grains of moisture per cubic meter of ambient air. The true amount of moisture exposure, not the percentage air can hold. Enough about my view of the science but safe to say the two-year storage was not determent at ail to my old ABS filament.
I had a small project for outdoor use so I wanted to see how it would print in ABS. What is new to my printing is I now use a glass plate with hair spray for adhering the print. The small parts printed perfectly and loved the new stick down process. Not one sign of an edge warp.
Since It was loaded in my delta printer, ready to print some more, I finished off the spool with some larger prints. One was a cell phone case with a large flat (but thin) surface on the print bed. It was a perfect print. I realized what I have been missing with this material.
The last couple of meters of material went to printing ABS sewing thimbles for my wife. Again, absolutely perfect prints. I am now somewhat amazed.
I bought a new spool od ABS (red) and have continued re-discovering ABS printing. I am not experiencing the warping off the bed that made me shy away from this material. I am certain the warping issue is just lurking somewhere, but the glass and hairspray is far better than other print adhesion I have used with ABS.
No, I am not going to quote temps, speeds, etc. There is no one magic number. Use the manufacturers recommendations and work out your own numbers from there. It is not critical to a one-degree accuracy or magic mm/s. None of the hobbyist printers in existence on this planet are calibrated to the same (or any) absolute reference.
I’m rambling and mini-ranting. My point is supposed to be that I re-discovered ABS as a nice useable raw printing material. Technique was my issue, more than the material itself. The real issue as in every creative craft is the user knowing how to work with the material at hand.
Looking back on my purchase history, I determined I have purchased and used over 10 spools of ABS. But that is only 8% of my total purchases. I have experience with ABS but it has not been my material for everyday use.
A heated bed is necessary. An enclosed print area is good but not absolutely necessary. I don’t own an enclosed printer so that is one reason I stayed away from using a lot of ABS. That may still prove to be a reason. But I am seeing good prints without an enclosure. I am printing in a small office, not a large drafty open space or cold shop environment.
There is a small added benefit of ABS over PLA filament. The specific gravity (weight) is less per volume. Printing filament is sold by weight rather than volume or length. So, there is about 17% more length on a spool of ABS. The prints weight less, but more prints can be made.
The following pictures are some of the items I have just printed with ABS. Yellow is the old ABS and the red is the freshly opened new spool.