So you have had a shiny new 3D printer for a few months, your house now is full of little plastic tchotchkes. There are Little Yoda heads in the living room, some benchy boats in the bath, and an R2D2 on your desk. What’s next? You can buy fancy filaments with metal powders embedded in them so you can make your gnomes rusty or green but they’re still plastic. How does one make something metal with a 3D printer? You can spend a huge sum of money and buy a printer that can sinter metal powders together. Unless you’re NASA or SpaceX that is a lot of money. Sure, you could slap a MIG welder nozzle on your printer but that is not very precise and would take a lot of tinkering to get something useful out of it. Instead of going high tech, let’s go low tech. Casting liquid metal into sand molds is a process humans have been doing for centuries. What if you used a 3D printer to create the mold patterns for the sand in a few hours instead of the day(s) it would have taken to do by hand?
Article Name: Casting 3D Printed Parts
Written by: Bruce Maley
Pictures by: Bruce Maley
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Before we get started, I would like to stress the proper use of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment). The temperatures worked with when casting can cause 2nd and 3rd degree burns in just seconds. So assuming you will pull away fast enough if things go wrong just isn’t going to work. Proper flame-retardant shirts and pants, heavy leather gloves and shoes, as well as eye and ear protection are all required. You should have water buckets and fire extinguishers within feet of the furnace at all times, don’t assume just because they aren’t visible in our photos that they aren’t there. If you try this at home, you do so at your own risk.