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Casting and Production

Author: Weston Brownlee

  • Casting
  • Mold Making
  • Rubber
  • Resin
Rendering of the NASA Swarmies trophy

Again, Again, and Again

Truly merging the modern with the traditional, production relies upon proven processes and methods to take 3D technology to its greatest potential. Casting and production allow an object to be replicated in order to achieve specific material properties or functions, or more importantly to reproduce the object on a large scale. While 3D Printing has opened unprecedented doors, there are still instances in which pairing it with traditional techniques is still the best possible solution. In fact, using 3D technology hand-in-hand with injection molding or hand casting is creating a growing sector of business that never before existed.

3D printed trilobite

Master Production

Whether you’re using injection molding, hand casting, or a process more like lost-wax everything begins with a master. Historically, masters were commonly made from clay or wax. While the go-to master in the 3D Process is always a 3D file for tooling or a 3D print for molding, almost any object can serve as a master. It is the most perfect version of an object someone hopes to recreate. In the case of 3D Printed masters, different materials can be chosen for particular outcomes or surface finishes.

mold made from a 3D printed trilobite

Mold Making

Nothing can be reproduced at any quantity in the production process without a mold. Typically made from flexible silicone rubber, the mold creates a negative space used to cast the object in its final form. Further augmenting the process, 3D Printed molds have been successfully used in both the hand casting and injection molding process. While traditional molds and tricks to make them can handle just about any type of geometry, 3D Printed molds take possibility a step further.

proofs made from a mold of a trilobite

Proofing

An often overlooked phase of production, proofing ensures that a master, mold, and cast material have functioned exactly as desired. Proofs are important as a type of insurance. When successfully created on an initial run, they simply verify that production at quantity will operate as intended. When proofs fail, they give vital insight into possible changes or similarly can provide a few options to hone a final decision about material properties or a particular aesthetic.

large-scale production of trilobites

Production

Production is the phase in which an object is reproduced at quantity. It can encompass a small run of ten castings or represent continuous rotation of pours and new molds to produce hundreds of thousands of objects. Production is the realization of the commercial opportunity associated with part creation, and ultimately the critical factor in the manufacturing process 3D Printing aims to transform.