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Printing Wax

Posted by BertFromProtoneer 
Printing Wax
October 28, 2012 05:05AM
How hard do you think it would be to make a printer that would be able to print WAX?

I have been playing with investment casting and did my first try at doing it with PLA
today. Did not manage to get the PLA out so I just casted into what was left of it in the mould.

Wax would make it so much easier to do castings. At the moment I would print it in
plastic, make a silicon mold and make wax copies. The wax are then set in plaster of paris
and welted out before casting the metal.

If I could print directly in wax and skip the silicon step for one of prints it would hugely improve
my prototyping time...

Any ideas?

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Re: Printing Wax
October 28, 2012 06:47AM
Other people have done this successfully with PLA. It will need a higher temperature than wax to melt it out and natural PLA is probably better than coloured as the pigment may leave residue.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/28/2012 10:38AM by nophead.

Re: Printing Wax
October 28, 2012 07:24AM
In a conversation I had with Vik Olliver last year I recall him saying something along the lines or ' if you heat PLA to a high enough temperature it all most evaporates". I think he said putting the cast in to a fire...but none the less it you contact him he will be able to give you exact details. I believe he had a hand in the initial development of PLA.
Re: Printing Wax
October 28, 2012 10:47PM
Right... So what would prevent you from printing with Wax though?

I heated the PLA + plaster to well over 400 degrees for over 30 min.

My feeling is that it might be causing a vacume that keeps the running pla
Inside. Will try a second casting hole to
See if that would work.

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Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 01:00AM
Vik recommends his clear PLA I think for casting, I have never done it though, defiantly worth asking him

Experimenting in 3D in New Zealand
Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 01:35AM
I have used the filament I bought from Vik that he recommended. Nothing wrong with the filament... smiling smiley

It actually very interesting because I made the plastic form and mold so warm that the plaster from Paris
actually started glow in spots. It also started cracking all over. That's after I baked it in the over for a few hours to
get moisture out.

I wonder how wax would preform when printing bridges. I also thing your temperature control would have to be
very accurate to make it melt consistent. I am sure the new Arduino due would do great at frequent reads. smiling smiley

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Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 02:28AM
Have you actually googled for reprap printing wax?

There is lots of results.

But mainly it stays liquid/goes to liquid... probably need to be cooled (more than just a fan)

but [reprap.org] is interesting and probbly better results (no layer lines)
as is [reprap.org] has possibilities

But no one has it working wax FDM printer.. yet. (that I can find)

Also as others have said, lost PLA casting works well, according to the blogs.
Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 02:45AM
Yes... I have looked on Oooogle... but have not seen a lot. The Waxuum is an interesting take on it.

Mmmm according to the book of Blogs everything is easy and works the first time... smileys with beer

I will play around a bit more. Thanks for your input.

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Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 02:50AM
The one thing that isnt mentioned is that there are many types of wax, there may be one that is idea.. Good hunting.

I have wondered if you could do this from inside a small fridge, say at 10C or something...
Would be interesting to try.
Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 03:51AM
We have an apiary and I have played around with bee's wax for a while. To soften wax you add oil to it(Lip balm) and to harden it you add stearine to it(Machine wax).

The stearine hardens the wax and increases the melting point of the wax.

I think it will be doable but one thing to consider would be how to feed the printing head.

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Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 06:14AM
As far as feeding the print head I was thinking something along the lines of a 3D printable Peristaltic pump..

The inventive endeavors of Jason
open | download - Peristaltic_pumphead.jpg (22.9 KB)
Re: Printing Wax
October 29, 2012 01:23PM
Yes.. there was one on thingiverse the other day. It will have to be heated or it will get stuck.

Anything is possible... winking smiley

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Re: Printing Wax
October 31, 2012 03:05AM
I wonder if some form of sugar could be used to form printing thread, so it could be used in an ordinary extruder. I'm thinking more as a support material, but it could be used for casting.
I'm guessing it would be either soft or brittle, so maybe it would need a thicker thread, maybe 5mm
Re: Printing Wax
November 03, 2012 02:14AM
Yes, totally - Jordan Miller has been printing in sugar for making blood vessels etc:

Re: Printing Wax
November 05, 2012 03:24AM
Thanks, I hadn't seen the thingiverse thing, though I had read about this "printing of sugar for blood vessels" on a couple of science sites.

However, I think this is using a paste type extruder rather than a thread type. Threads, or even glue sticks, are convenientto buy/sell, easy to build, easy to calibrate and easy to change materials.

I admit that I haven't yet tried a paste extruder. Certainly chocolate is tempting, so is ceramic paste. A well controlled heated paste extruder would solve the wax problem, as well as sugar, chocolate and several other materials. So maybe this is the way to go rather than thread extruderss.
I certainly like the idea of putting cheap PLA (etc) pellets (or previous failed builds) straight into the printer.
Re: Printing Wax
November 08, 2012 02:59AM
Very interesting concept...

I found a really great working example. Link

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