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Direct 3D print of moulds


Patrik
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Question for the educated, hopefully right forum. And of course great apology if it has been discussed before and in my ignorance, I was unable to find it.

 

Direct 3D print of resin moulds for shortrun plastic kits. Feasible or pure science fiction? The print would have to be of absolute top quality, with no necessity for manual interaction or mould cleaning, as there must be an option to make another identical set when the first one wears off.

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It can be done with Fusion 360 for printing resins, check this tutorial, so it is probable it can be achieved with other programs.  Fusion 360 is a very powerful modelling program and is free to download. 

I would think that metal moulds would be needed for hot plastics that are needed for IM parts.

Cheers.

Mike

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There's a big difference between being able to print something that looks like a mould, and printing an actual, usable production tooling. 

 

It's probably not feasible at any realistic pressure/temperature for injection moulding, but you would need to experiment with different resins and your own particular equipment.  Generic, cheap resins almost certainly won't cut it, so you'd have to research engineering grade options.

 

Also, it would depend on what you deem as 'acceptable' quality.  For higher quality, you'll be extremely limited in terms of build size, or else looking at much higher end machinery.

 

TL;DR: technically feasible, with a lot of caveats, but in reality probably more science fiction for modelling purposes.

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Please do not misunderstand me, I have never been planning to do it. And I was definitely thinking about high end industry standards. The question was more or less out of academic interest, and in this sense thanks a lot for both your answers!

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I use a slicer called CURA for most of my prints and interestingly it has the ability to create a mold from whatever part you give it.   So, design your part in Fusion 360 or whatever software you like then give it to CURA and it will "reverse" it and generate the Gcode to make a mold.

 

Under Preferences/Settings/Special modes.

 

The usual caveat here ... I've never used it  so I can't vouch for the results.

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Again, converting your digital file into something that looks like a mould is easy.

 

Doing it at "absolute top quality, with no necessity for manual interaction or mould cleaning" is very hard and doing it with the manufacturing requirements and at the budget a limited run manufacturer would have is borderline impossible. Yes, Cura lets you print moulds, but a.) FDM prints are terrible quality and not what the OP is looking for, b.) moulds would explode at the required pressure needed for moulding and c.) given the temperature needed to inject plastic, the moulds would melt before they even had a chance to explode.

 

 

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Yes, of course, not suitable for the original poster.   I just thought that since the topic was moulds then I would mention that it can be done through a slicer.   My son prints them and pours some kind of urethane(?) parts into them.   

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