Trying to come up with ideas on what to print with my new MSLA printer. I stated before, number one plan is for printing castable items. That is top of the list. I have not yet accepted the reality… well, yes, I have… that the good castable resin costs about $300 per liter. Standard resins are in the $50/liter range.
It’s just hard to imagine paying out that much for jewelry making. Because I charge far too little for my custom work. Pricing an items’ value is only semi relevant to the cost of the metal such as silver. Gold is a different story. The real cost is ALL the materials consumed in casting and the extreme amount of labor for a hand finished piece.
I have no issue with passing through the cost of production. However, I subsidize myself immensely, as many of my designs are given away as presents by both my spouse and me. That’s not an issue. We do it because we want to. My craft hobby is not intended to put bread on the table.
But recovering materials cost helps keep the hobby going. There is also overhead keeping the books and paying taxes. KautzCraft Studio is a registered business in Texas.
Back to Printing
What this all implies is the product (the jewelry) must be of the highest quality I can produce. If the use of high cost and quality resin is necessary, then it is just a part of the production costs. The finial sell-price and value must be somewhere above the cost of creation.
The MSLA resin printer can produce acceptable jewelry quality (smooth) master models for casting. Lest expensive resins also print well. My issues with lower cost casting resins are with obtaining a clean burnoutof the investment in the kiln. With all the pre-work required before casting, anything lower than a 99% casting yield is not acceptable. I am very close to that expectation when doing lost WAX casting. Wax is figuratively the “gold” standard.
I have a good supply of non-castable resins. I will continue designing items not intended for casting. The type of non-castable resins I have are primarily suited for on the shelf “display” prints. Unsuitable for real world structural applications. Stuff I usually call display “Junque” as it is more suitable for looking at than real durable use.
The resin printing items in the previous post are examples of display only Junque.
A complete set of detailed chess board pieces would be a good example of light to medium duty resin printed objects. One step above fragile display only Junque. There are good uses for MSLA resin printed items. Specialty resins are available for producing strong and durable prints. It is all the makers options of material choice. One size (resin) does not fit all needs.
Also considering awards and tokens. Things cast of metal are far higher intrinsic value than the plastic original model of the same item.
My thinking is that a 3D printed item can be utilized as the master model in a quality casting, produced by the lost (wax/resin) process. I see 3D printed item used as an intermediate step rather than the finished product.
My home residential workshop is not suitable for any large-scale foundry-type casting. I live in a HOA residential neighborhood and a back yard foundry would not receive approval by the HOA-STASI Estate Security Ministry. It is my choice to live here
Of course, this is not the only way 3D printing is presently being used. The only limitation is imagination and suitability of purpose. Three-dimensional printing is not suitable for every end use item. I think about all the options.
Perhaps I could switch to a cast gold standard. The cost of gold will certainly keep the projects and cast items small. I wonder if solid gold is as popular in these times as silver. The items made will certainly have to pay their way into creation. Gold can be plated to a base metal. Yet another process to investigate. I am not headed in that direction at this time.
My Next Step
So what’s next? Whatever I find interesting. I have some professional grade 3D CAD and 3D Graphic software with which I can design almost anything. Pixologic ZBrush is a drawing tool with which I desire to become far more capable. I have used it many times for editing 3D models. Next step is “from scratch” creation of 3D printable models. I will get there as I have already printed a few (very) crude attempts.
ZBrush is a complicated professional level 3D drawing tool. I will get better with practice. So, “what’s next” for me is practice to become more masterful with ZBrush. It is a very good alternative to formal 3D CAD. The organic form in ZBrush is usually more important than exact geometric dimensional accuracy. However, dimensions are not absent in organic drawing, and precise scale can be maintained.
I think I have made this same “next step” ZBrush decision before. That’s OK. I don’t chastise myself for changes to plan. Life is too short. A plan is just that, a direction to take at a certain point in time. Personal plans can change without pain if I am the only one affected with the change. That’s a freedom of personal choice. If my free will has no effect on others, there are no issues to anyone but myself. I can live with that.
Where have I put that drawing pad… ??
Using UV sensitive resin for 3D printing has many process names.
DLP (Digital Light Processing) Is a 3D UV resin printing process using image projecting much like a slide or video projector.
SLA (Sterolithography ) is a 3D UV resin printing system using a rapidly moving LASER “flying spot” (like a CRT screen) to trace thin lines and fill-in solid layer areas to cure the resin
What I am using is MSLA (Masked Sterolithography) process where a full layer image is created on a video screen mask and the complete resin layer is exposed all at one time like a contact photo negative.
All of these processes expose one very thin layer (0.01mm to 0.15mm thick) to the UV light and build a “stuck together” stack of these layers to create the complete 3D item.
I have just rekindled my interest in 3D high resolution resin MSLA printing with a new higher power printer than my previous MSLA machine. The printing area is the same, so it is not larger. The UV (Ultraviolet) Light source is stronger, and the digital video mask is much better quality. The Z axis far more rigid (a good thing) and the electronics are much better. Overall a far better print system.
This is the Anycubic Photon Mono SE 3D MSLA resin printer
It is Chinese made as almost all printers in the hobbyist price range. (Under $300). Commercial equipment USA made is typically $5K to $10K, far out of my range and desires.
My intent is to use special purpose castable resin to produce master models for “Lost Resin” type casting in silver and other metals. Exactly like “Lost Wax Casting.” Not implying that this will be the only use for the MSLA resin printer.
Shown here are a few Junque prints in standard green resin I printed as part of the “shakedown cruise” of this new printer. (Yeah, I am ex-Navy.) I have already made a solid brass casting of the gnome (pointy hat figure) from a PLA plastic 3D print.
I have generally become dissatisfied making what I call useless plastic Junque. I have consumed a lot of plastic in the last few years, making many plastic “display” items of very low value and usefulness. I desire to avoid this trend with resin prints.
Making high quality master models for metal casting is a good 3D print application. So, a focus on designs that do not fall into my useless Junque category is my intent. There will be relapses, I am sure. Sometimes I just want to print Junque. It’s not a real crime.
Let’s see how well I do…
The meaning is still the same. For me, I am saying I am going to revisit my attempts with Resin based high-definition 3D printing for making master models for casting metal jewelry items.
Using wax master models (in lost wax casting) remains the ultimate choice for me in high quality models and excellent burn-out in the casting process. The attraction of 3D prints is for making detailed models that cannot be hand carved or 3 and 4 axis machine-milled in wax.
The very best surface finish quality 3D prints are made using photosensitive resins and extremely small (0.035mm) layering. My previous attempts with 3D printed masters resulted in inconsistent burnout of the resins from the mold investment.
The solution is to use only the very best (and expensive) casting resins specifically designed for clean burn-out. Those resins required a printer of sufficient power to completely cure the resin on exposure.
My WanHao D7 shown elsewhere on this website is/was not quite up to the job on slow cure resins. The casting resins I could use with the D7 gave me inconsistent results as mentioned above. I abandoned my attempts, and much time passes.
My residence suffered a direct lighting strike last year. I just now discovered the Wanhao D7 must have suffered some damage from the EMP of the strike. The electromechanical parts, the cooling fans, start but the printer is unresponsive to computer inputs. I never thoroughly tested the printer after the strike as it wasn’t being used.
It’s a mixed blessing and curse. Total replacement of the electronics is about $200. But newer and far better 3D printers of this type now exist. The hardware is so improved, it is much better to upgrade than repair.
I have replaced the Wanhao D7 with the Anycubic Photon Mono SE.
The physical size/print capacity are nearly the same with both. The mechanical and hardware difference is a giant leap improvement in the Photon Mono SE. Prime improvements are dual Z axis linear bearings, anti-backlash z axis drive, huge UV exposure improvement in Light unit and 2K mono video screen.
Enough improvements in hardware that I am willing to re-visit 3D prints for use in metal casting masters.
I will cover the casting results in my KautzCraft Studio Blog. The new resin 3D printer shown here will from this point be the AnyCubic Photo Mono SE. The Wanhao D7 Rhino is now a goner. It was fun and useful while it lasted.
I print them four at a time but there is no time savings in doing multiples. The print time for four (one chair) is six hours. Total print time for all 36 pieces was 54 hours.
The material used is called TPU which is Thermal Plastic Urethane, a rubber material. Very tough and durable once it has been printed. Very good for this use.
I made a TPU (RED) case for my Apple SE cell phone. This too was a great application. I earlier posted some other red TPU prints in this blog. I now have to look for other uses for the TPU material.
Now that I have mastered the process for printing TPU, more projects with TPU will soon be underway.