Dimensional Print Studio


IMG 3276The 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…

WaxFilamentThis 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. 

  1. Super accuracy XYZ axis
  2. Very close-coupled direct drive feeder
  3. Easily changed nozzles - changes full full path.
  4. 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 nozzle range (also a steel nozzle)
  5. Runs S3D gcode (also a fully editable Tiertime slicer called Catfish)
  6. Heated glass bed
  7. 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..

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