Bottom line, don’t buy an FDM printer, you’re going to be disappointed. Hey guys, welcome back to Gulfstream Outdoors where I help you get the lure out of your head and onto your line. I’ve been getting a lot of messages about what 3D printer to buy if you want to make fishing lures or fishing lure mold. I also have been getting a lot of messages from people saying they have a certain printer and they want to print lures and molds and it’s not working out. So I went looking around online to see if I could figure out if anybody’s already made a video like this or recommendations and I couldn’t find one. So, I thought I’d make this video for you guys today because I do not want you to send your hard earned money on a printer you’re not going to like.
So when you go looking online for 3D printers, you find the FDM printers by and large. They’ve just been around a lot longer and there’s more content around them. For general purpose 3D printing, it’s where everyone gets started but I’d say that’s really started to change over the past two years with the explosion of 3D resin printers. Also the decrease in the price point and the advancement in the variety of models that are out there, the size you can print and the materials or the resin have really helped the advancements in the last couple of years. It’s well beyond what it was just a couple of years ago.
So if your primary goal is to make fishing lures and fishing lure molds, I can’t even come close to recommending and FDM printer to do that for you. You really want to go with a resin SLA printer and there are a couple of reason why. The big reason is the material that these machines print. With a FDM printer, you’re going to be using materials like pla or petq, maybe abs, there’s a few newer ones out there. The key point for fishing lures, and more specifically molds, is the heat deflection temperature of these is really low. ABS has one of the higher heat deflection temperatures and it’s around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat deflection just means when the material gets heated to a certain point and you apply pressure to it, it’s going to deform or change shape, so 220 is way too low for plastisol when you inject or even open pore. Your plastisol is going to be between 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, you can do it. I have seen people do it so I don’t want to say that you can’t, but your mold is going to deform either immediately or over time. When you’re injecting, especially hot plastisol, you’re going to be putting yourself in a danger zone you don’t want to be in. Best case, you’re going to get lures changing sizes over time which is not what you want either.
So when it comes to resins, they’ve made major advancements over just the past year or two in the types of materials you can print on a resin 3D printer. When they first came out, most of the material had about the same heat deflection temperature as your ABS or PETG but now you can get resin like like Siraya Tech Sculpt or Sculpt Ultra that have heat deflection temperatures well above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Sculpt Ultra is about 420 degrees and Sculpt Regular is around 320 degrees which is well within reason for a plastisol injection. I have molds that I have produced thousands of baits in over the past six months that have no signs of any deformation whatsoever and produce the same exact bait they did when I first started.
The second thing is the level of detail that you get. I don’t know any fishing lire maker that doesn’t like detail. Generally what you’re looking for is a shiny bait and you want a great amount of detail. FDM printers don’t come anywhere near the resolution of SLA printers, so the best way to show you this is just to show you an example of two lures I’ve made. The two lures are the exact same model but one is made from the FDM printer and one from the SLA resin printer. It’s night and day how these two lures look. I didn’t sand the FDM lure but I also didn’t sand the resin one either. That kind of the point of the resin, I cant take it off the printer, post-process it and paint it and I’m good to go. To get anywhere near the same result on the FDM, I’m going to be sitting here sanding for quite some time and I hate sanding. That quality goes across the board, the modern SLA printers in the Summer of 2021 are generally 4K resolution. You can get some 2K and they’re coming out with some 5K as well. It really comes down to the layer height, when you’re talking about an FDM printer the best quality you’re going to get is a 0.12 millimeter layer height, that’s the space between the layers as it’s building up the model. On a SLA printer, by default it’s going to give you a layer height of .05 millimeters so over a hundred percent better resolution by line count.
So let’s talk about price. There was a point in time where resin SLA printers were way more expensive than their FDM counterparts. However, that’s largely gone away and you can get into a small form factor resin SLA printer like the Creality LD-002H that I have for around $250. Now you’re not going to be able to print massive molds on this thing but you can print smaller molds, single cavity molds and even multi-cavity molds if you have a small lure. It’s a great into printer. Now if you compare that to my artillery sidewinder which was $500, you can now print a lot bigger but in a lower space and bigger isn’t always what you’re looking for. Worst case, I can take my model and chop it up into multiple smaller parts and print it on my resin 3D printer and glue them together afterwards. I’m going to get that same amazing quality that I get on the resin printer.
So even if you look at the entry level FDM printers, I did a quick Amazon search and even the entry level printers are generally around $170. So for roughly $80-100 more, I’m in a resin 3D printer where I want to be eventually anyways. Now, you can move up a size from the smaller resin 3D printer into something like the Elegoo Saturn I have, which is an amazing entry level midsized 3D printer. You’re looking at about $500 and you can print almost whatever you want here. The overall length is about 10 inches and you can print just about any mold you want. If you want to step up the quality a little more, the Epax E10 I have is just a monster workhorse and it’s $699. The price difference is not that much especially when you know that you can use the materials that you need for injection molds and the quality just blows away anything from the FDM side of printers.
So I don’t want you to get frustrated right out of the gate with 3D printing. Ig you buy a FDM printer, I think you’re going to be a little frustrated since SLA is just better suited for fishing lures and fishing lure molds. Bottom line, I have links to the resin SLA printers that I recommended and I’ve actually used.
Take care everybody- tight lines