When you’re looking into what materials to use for 3D printing an object, the last thing you usually expect to hear is “this one burns really well!”
MadeSolid, a 3D printing materials team out of Emeryville, CA, has just released a new resin specifically engineered to burn well. But why? Why would you want to burn your shiny new 3d-printed doodad?
Lets say you’re a jewelry designer, and you want to use a 3D printer to design a wedding ring. Most people (who aren’t Elon Musk) don’t have access to 3D printers that can print in metal… and you probably don’t want the final wedding ring to be made of plastic, right?
So you print your ring in plastic, then use that plastic prototype to create a mold which you’ll later fill with molten metal. But first, you’ve got to get that 3D print out of your mold, while leaving the mold itself intact. How do you do that? By burning the 3d print out.
This process is known as “Investment casting”, and it’s actually something humanity has been doing for about 5,000 years (without the 3d printers, of course.)
MadeSolid’s new FireCast resin is the first resin engineered specifically to be melted away as part of the casting process. You create a high-heat mold of your 3d print, then use a super hot oven to essentially evaporate the print within. After about 11 hours in the heat, the 3D printed model is completely burned away, leaving behind no ash or residue to screw things up.
You pour your molten metal into the mold’s now empty void, let it cool, chip away the mold, and tada! Your 3D printed design is now cast in metal.
Before you go ordering a batch of this stuff to stick in your MakerBot, note that this is a resin, not a filament. Not so well-versed on your 3D printing terms? Just know that there are primarily two types of at-home 3D printers right now: one — like the Form1 printer — that uses a special liquid (or resin) that hardens when hit by a laser, and one — like the MakerBot — that uses spools of plastic (or filament) that gets pushed out through a hot nozzle like a glue gun.
Given the specialized nature of this resin, it doesn’t come cheap: at launch, a 500 gram bottle goes for $200.
This is the third specialized 3D printing material that MadeSolid has engineered and released so far. You can read about the other two — PET+ and MS Resin — right over here.