Sam Bozek, MadeSolid's quality control chemist, told us the FireCast resin can be used to make casts for jewelry and other metal objects. It's been specifically formulated to work with 3D printers that require UV-curable resins, such as SLA and digital light processing printers, including Form1, B9 Creator, and Deep Imager 5. The resin burns at two stages for the cleanest burnout. The first stage occurs at 540°F, which gets rid of the initial residue, followed by a second stage at 1,200°F to remove any remaining pieces.
MadeSolid says its 3D-printable casting resin for making small metal parts for things like jewelry costs less than previous alternatives and can be used with multiple consumer-grade printers -- an industry first. (Source: MadeSolid)
The company has been working with casters and beta testers around the country, particularly the Mind-2-Matter casting group in San Leandro, Calif. These casters helped MadeSolid formulate the material so it meets standard casting requirements. Bozek said one of the main things to look for in a castable resin is clean burnout -- all the material should be evaporated, so there's no ash or residue after heating -- and FireCast achieves that goal.
The lost-wax method was previously used to investment cast jewelry. This process starts with a handmade wax model, which is cast in plaster or another material. The wax is melted and burned away in an oven, leaving a mold. "This process takes a lot of skill, especially making the wax model by hand," Bozek said. "Being able to 3D print a cast saves time. You also have access to a much finer degree of resolution with 3D printers that you can't achieve when making models by hand." Doing it the old way, a jeweler required at least 15 hours to make one ring, but now casts for three rings can be 3D printed in one hour.
MadeSolid says the FireCast resin burns at two stages for the cleanest burnout. The first stage occurs at 540°F, which gets rid of the initial residue. A second stage at 1,200°F removes any remaining pieces. (Source: MadeSolid)
Casting-specific resins for 3D printers aren't a new idea. There are casting resins that cost about $600 per liter, Bozek said, but they work only with a single manufacturer's machine (which costs around $20,000) and are available only from that machine's manufacturer.
No casting-specific resins existed for consumer-grade printers, he said, so MadeSolid addressed this neglected area. "Our resin is compatible with many printers, and it's especially aimed at consumer-level machines that cost $5,000 and below."
FireCast is priced at $199 per half-liter bottle. It will be interesting to see what new materials this company develops next.
Ann, I believe Pete answered most of the open questions in the comments. It was great to have him jump in and participate. Now that I'm sure that it is the models that are being made, this is a major improvement for many jewelers. While I am a fan of hand modeling, there are some shapes that I can create in 3D CAD that I would be hard-pressed to duplicate by hand. This material can allow those concepts to be realized. And duplicated, with ease.
Hey there all! Maybe I can help clarify a few things.
Many of our initial customers are folks who are already making jewelry. They have an oven and other machines necessary to make a good cast. They are happy because the initial capital needed to integrate 3D printing into their shop is significantly lowered with FireCast Resin.
The difference is a lot of jewelers are still using wax figures and casting those. With lower priced machines (Take a look at the LittleDLPer for $900), you are able to print figures that will replace the wax part. This opens the door for many folks who are already casting to use 3D printing to a) bring down costs b) do intricate designs that would otherwise be very difficult to do by hand.
This isn't about making RTV Molds. You could do that with our normal resin as no burnout is required.
For folks who do not have a set up to do casting, they would have to work with a caster to do the process. Some customers are happy printing their design and shipping it to get casted else where.
DVanditmars, there's more than one comparison being made here. The one you address is actually between a) someone who already owns a UV-curable 3D printing system, or buys one for under $5,000, plus buys this material for $400/liter, and b) someone who already owns or buys a high-end $20,000 UV-curable 3D printing system plus buys that machine-specific material for $600/liter. That's a big price difference. Both of these people would have to take their cast to a foundry. I've asked MadeSolid to clarify what the cost of the cast-making oven is, and who owns that, which is a good question.
Maybe because it's late Friday, but I'm a little confused about what they are making with the technology.
Because they are emphasizing the burnout efficiency, it sounds like they are making the model of which a cast is being made.
But with the switching of use of "cast" from noun to verb, it also sounds like they are making the cast itself (aka the mold) out of this material. But if that were the case, the burnout wouldn't be a rating factor.
In either case, there is definitely a benefit to be reaped by jewelry makers. However, I think some of them would take exception to the "...finer degree of resolution with 3D printers that you can't achieve when making models by hand." : )
To get started on would need a UV cure light and associated box filters and timers. Then what looks like a programable oven that can go to at least 1200F. What kind of investment $ would this be? I am thinking this will be close to the $20K quoted for a single manufacturer's machine...
Lou, I agree--the open materials market for 3D printing seems to be starting at the consumer end, but that can still help the same overall, thus influencing the higher industrial end. Do you have any thought son this particular material for investment casting, like what it could be used for besides jewelry?
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