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  1. #1
    Student artbyamm's Avatar
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    Rank noob needs research refs for 3d prototype

    The little I know about 3D printing has been gleaned from reviews, mfg sites, and videos (just enough to be stupidly dangerous ). I have a project in mind for which I will need help in researching filament, printer, software options. I also need guidance on the right forum folder for this post.

    I want to make molds for fusing glass frit into intricate 3D shapes. My options are physically making custom ceramic fiber compound molds--research in progress, or 3D printing custom designed molds. In any case, the molds -- producing tiny objects -- need to made in easily replicated quantities for the product to be feasibly marketable.

    I am posting because my first need is discovering if there is a filament available which can produce a high heat resistant (preferably up to 1400F) prototype mold. What kind of properties would such a filament need to have. Right now I just need pointers or links to resources so I learn more about filaments and what they can and can't be expected to do. Am I searching for a unicorn filament? If so, my project is not suitable for the 3D platform and no further research is necessary.

    If I can get past the filament issue, I believe my next step would be prototype software and printer choices; followed by production software/hardware/supply choices.

    Thank you for your time and assistance.

  2. #2
    Engineer Marm's Avatar
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    I'm assuming frit means fruit?

    Now stop and think about your first requirement you posted. Most 3d printers work by melting filament, at around 150-300c depending on the material. 1400f is about 480c. Titanium starts to get soft around there.

    I cannot figure out what your end goal is here. It seems you are asking a XY problem here.

    State your intended goal, not your intended process, but your end product. What do you want it for, how will it be used? THEN we can help you out.

    I'm pretty sure we can figure out an affordable solution for you that doesn't involve injecting produce into the heat shield of the sr-71 (Which is all I can figure out from your post).

  3. #3
    Student artbyamm's Avatar
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    Yep! XY question, sorry.

    I need to produce custom 3D molds for fusing glass in a microwave kiln. Unlike regular glass kilns, microwave kilns allow me to fuse finish-ready small glass pendants and components in 3-5 mins with a 1 hour cooling period. In this instance I would be using glass frit -- very finely ground glass powder -- to fill the molds. As a small business, I need the mold making process to be accurate and easily replicable.

    My goal is producing the custom molds in quantity -- preferable on demand as opposed to inventoried stock. Once I design the custom molds, I see my production options as 1) creating the prototypes by hand for casting and fabricating (inventory); or 2) 3D printing and replicating the molds.

    Microwave kilns can reach 1650F or 899C in 5-10 mins of operation. My process will fuse in 1-2 min increments with pauses to check progress, and continue in 15-30 sec increments until done; usually 3-5 mins maximum fusing time.

    Priority question because of my ignorance is discovering if there is a filament capable of printing a mold that can withstand the heat produced in a microwave kiln for the max fusing period. If there is not, or a way to work with a filament maker to find one, then the 3D printing platform will not meet my needs.

    Thank you for the welcoming courtesy and guidance of your response. Your help in focusing my question is deeply appreciated.
    Last edited by artbyamm; 02-06-2017 at 01:10 PM. Reason: grammatical

  4. #4
    Engineer Marm's Avatar
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    I am not familiar with a filament that will meet that requirement. But then, I'm not that familiar with the variety of filaments out there. Now that we know what it is you need, One of our guru's here might be able to point in the right direction.

    One place you might want to take a look is Smooth-On. They make a lot of different molding materials, one of which may fit your needs for your molds. You could use normal filament in a 3d printer to create your positive to cast the mold with, as most of the materials only require a vacuum pot. As you were planning on making the mold with a printer, then making the positive is the exact same process, just "mirrored".

    Smooth on has what they call their high temp epoxy resin for mold making. It's rated to 375F, but from the description, Yours and theirs, it might be worth picking up a sample size bottle from them and give it a whirl.

    Another method I know of, is using plaster of paris and play sand mixed to create molds. I'm planning to use this material in an Aluminum foundry in the near future.

  5. #5
    Student artbyamm's Avatar
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    Thank you. Gave a quick look at the Smooth-On site link -- great tool to investigate. Your thought on printing a 'positive' gives me an appealing option. Again, thanks for your feedback.

  6. #6
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Hi,

    As Marm said, plaster of Paris will be your best option based on a 3D printed mother mold.
    Look at Shapeways for suitable materials for the mother mold, they for example have a wax material used for lost wax casting.
    As detail is imperative for these molds, you need to use SLS, SLA or polyjet mother models.
    The Smooth-On materials will not resist 1400F but nonetheless are great materials to work with.

    I have worked with plaster before for small parts and am planning to use it for larger molds as well.
    I would like to know if anyone has experience with large plaster molds and what the drying time is for these molds.
    For faster drying times you can use British plaster Herculite 2.

    Post pictures and keep the thread alive!

  7. #7
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Not sure I'd mix sand in as well. If it melts glass it will probably also melt sand, which is after all unmelted glass.

    Curious as to why/how microwaves can heat glass.
    No OH stretch bonds and those are what microwaves mainly act upon.

    But yep the clay moulds are the way to go.

  8. #8
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Right, I'd also go for just the gypsum which are calcium bonds and the H20 bonds will heat up in the microwave.
    I suppose you need a dedicated microwave for this because you will have large capacities of heat in there that may impact the device itself.
    Anyway, keep us posted.

  9. #9
    Student artbyamm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    Not sure I'd mix sand in as well. If it melts glass it will probably also melt sand, which is after all unmelted glass.

    Curious as to why/how microwaves can heat glass.
    No OH stretch bonds and those are what microwaves mainly act upon.

    But yep the clay moulds are the way to go.

    Microwave kilns are insulated top-vented containers that go inside the microwave oven. These kilns are coated on the inside with microwave susceptor material. This allows microwaves to heat the fusing chamber to the necessary fusing temperatures. Commercial microwave kilns are usually 3-1/4" tall cylinders with a 4-3/4" radius. The kiln base has a 2" fusing platform.

    I've found several tutorials for diy microwave kilns and will be able to fabricate shape and size more suited to my needs.

    I will expand my research on making clay molds. Thanks.

    Last edited by artbyamm; 02-07-2017 at 09:52 PM. Reason: remove images

  10. #10
    Student artbyamm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralphzoontjens View Post
    Right, I'd also go for just the gypsum which are calcium bonds and the H20 bonds will heat up in the microwave.
    I suppose you need a dedicated microwave for this because you will have large capacities of heat in there that may impact the device itself.
    Anyway, keep us posted.
    Yep! Dedicated microwave oven because fusing use and food preparation are a definite health hazard.

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