Hey guys! Today we're taking a request from a viewer named Ryan, thanks for the idea! I had a lot of fun building this Panfish lure and this mold. If you are on my mailing list you would have already received the STL files for this mold so you can print it yourself. If you're not on my mailing list, there's a link below how to join. Ryan asked for a Panfish lure mold and sent me some photos and overall dimensions. I decided it would be a good chance to show you guys how to do multi-cavity molds in a 3D printer.
Most of the time I make molds or single cavities just because it's a whole lot easier. Also, you don't have a lot of size on a 3D printer to do multi-cavities, like a large five inch swimbait for example, but a Panfish lure is tiny it's an inch and three quarters in overall length. Let's go into Fusion 360. As you can see, the main body has this rib section and an easy way to do that is with a Taurus and then you take that Taurus and you make a pattern along the path.
So I make my initial Taurus and I get it to the right size then I draw a path which is the overall length of the body which in this case is three quarters of an inch. I just make a pattern along that path and make sure that all the Taurus’ connect and that's pretty much my body. You can see that I end up with a hole in the middle and I just make a circle and extrude that circle through the main body. I join the bodies together and that fills that in and also leaves me a little bit of extra body in the front that I can make my sprue for.
The back legs are pretty simple, I draw a single arc here and use the pipe command to extrude it out and add a sphere on the end. I’m just eyeballing sizes at this point but you want the sphere bigger than the legs then it's a simple matter of drawing another line and mirroring that leg to the other side so they're perfectly even. Then we're pretty much done with the master.
Now let's talk about building the molds. The first thing I did was try to build one giant mold with all the cavities on one side. This seemed like a great idea until I popped it into my slicer and noticed it was going to take an incredibly long time to print. I decided to print it anyways but the problem with long prints when it comes to molds is not necessarily the length of time it takes but the amount of resin it takes and the amount of times you have to refill. So I started printing this thing during the day and refilled the resin a few times. I gave it one final fill before I went to bed which I thought was enough and it turned out it wasn’t enough at all so I ended up with this wonderful mold here that is missing basically the top quarter of it all. So, that mold was a complete failure. I could have printed it again and gotten better results if I would have sat there and babysat it, but I decided I didn't really want to wait 19 hours and a redesign was in order.
I just pop into Fusion 360 and pull the timeline slider back to where I had my original masters but I hadn't constructed the mold yet. I simply repositioned the masters to be side by side and slightly offset, rebuild my mold box and put my sprue hole in there. This mold only took nine hours to print and it came out pretty perfect, I have a little bit of pull away on the bottom here but it's still going to shoot.
Speaking of shooting, let's see how the Panfish lure molds came out. I decided to shoot some chartreuse and some red and I also did a little bit of a laminate here on a few on the legs. They came out absolutely perfect, I can't wait to go fishing with these lures. Right now, it's raining so I’m going to have to save that for another video but I hope this gives you some good ideas on how to do multi-cavity molds with a 3D printer. It's pretty straightforward but you want to keep your lure size down. If you're interested in a full detailed rundown on mold making, lure design and Fusion 360, I have a playlist that will fill you in for when I go fishing with this lure.
Alright guys, get that lure out of your head and onto your line.
Hey guys! In part two of my mold making series we're going to get down and dirty in Fusion 360 to show you exactly how to create these molds and then print them out. This process normally takes me five to ten minutes. There’s time stamps in the description and you'll see them in the bar below the video. You can skip ahead to any portion you want to see. If I leave anything out if you have any questions about anything in particular, please leave me a comment and I will answer them in the next video where we're actually going to inject this mold and go test it out. Alright guys let's roll!
Making the Box
So we have our lure here. We're going to go and create a sketch on this plane and I’m just going to create a two-point rectangle and the size at this point doesn't really matter because we can adjust it later. You want to be thinking about where you're going to make your sprue hole to inject your plastic through and give yourself enough space there. So this one I’m going to inject right here at the head of the lure so I want to make sure I have enough space in front to put my sprue hole in place. Then I want enough space on the sides. Again, it's not terribly critical where we are at this point, we can always adjust it later. I'm going to take my rectangular square tool and draw a box. The sides matter because we need to put in some bolts, or some poles for our bolts, and we want to make sure that we have enough room for them.
So I do the box then I hit escape and now I’m adjusting the box out. What I do from here is I’m going to extrude this sketch object into a box. I come up here, and hit extrude my box. The key point here is my direction, I want to be symmetrical which is going to move it the same distance up and down. The sweet spot I‘ve found no matter what size lure you have is 15 millimeters, so I get 30 millimeters in total height. If I do 15, it's going to go 15 up and 15 down giving me 30 total. I found with 30 millimeters total, you have enough around the edge of the sprue to hold it in place.
Now if you know Fusion 360 at all, you can see its turning red which means it wants you to cut. I don't want to cut, I want to change my operation to new body. That's going to create a new box for me. Having a 17 millimeters body and symmetrical are the main keys there so I click on ok. Now, if I come over here and look at my bodies drop down, my twirl ball is here and I have this body too. The first thing I like to do usually is change the opacity or the transparency of this mold so I can see what's going on. Right click opacity control and I’m going to choose 50 so you can see we have our lure in the middle.
Rename, Opacity and Chamfer
The first things we're going to do here is prep the mold box before we actually make our Split. I’m going to go around and select these edges and I’m holding down the shift key as I’m selecting multiple edges. What I’m going to do is I’m going to add a chamfer, which is basically an angle to all of these edges. The reason I do that is it uses less resin and it makes it easier to get off the build plate when I print it. I’m going to print one of these edges flat to the build plate so I just go ahead and chamfer around everywhere to save a little resin. Now chamfer is different from Philip in that chamfer does a direct angle. I do two millimeters, which seems to work for me on smaller molds. You can figure out what works best for you. Now you can see I have these angles around there so again, I do this mostly for saving a little bit of resin and it'll be easier when I print to get under here and pop this mold off.
Cutting the Lure out of the Mold
Now that I have my box and my chamfers, what I want to do is cut my lure out of the box which is pretty simple to do. We're going to use this tool in the modify area and we're going to hit the combine tool and it gives me two options, target body and tool bodies. I'm going to select my mold and I’m going to select my actual lure so I have target body and lure body. My operation is going to be a cut and I want to check this box keep tools that's going to keep my master mold around and I just click okay. Now you can see it doesn't look like anything actually happened but if I come over here and basically turn off my master in the view, you can now see I have my hole in here. Now I have a mold at this point but I have no way to get any plastic in there, so let's fix that problem.
Making the Sprue
We're going to add a hole to the front, this is going to be your screw hole where you inject plastic. I click on the hole tool and then I’m going to click on this front face here, make sure you click on the actual face. We want to line it up roughly in the center, make sure you're looking straight on so you're not getting weird angles. It should snap into place and then there’s two way you can do this. One, you can make the diameter you want the front where your injector is going to go which is roughly 16.2 millimeters. That's what I’ve been using and it's working really well so that's going to make this whole area here 16.2 millimeters and then my drill point I set to an angle and that way I can control how much penetration I get into my cavity. So if you look at the front here, that's going to shoot straight down there and I have a little opening and I have a little bit of an edge here.
So you can do it that way or the second way you can do it is you can set a counter bore and set that width to 16.2 and I can sit my main width to maybe 10 and you can see how it changes. Now my counter bore is where my injector is going to go and then this 10 millimeter gives me a slightly smaller sprue that I can pump all the way through there if I want to. It's really up to you, I haven't found that much of a difference and I tend to use just the straight through 16.2 on these smaller molds. I’ll use the counter bore and the smaller midsection there on multi-cavity molds, but on these little guys I like to keep it relatively simple. The main control here is this, I just pull it back and forth until we are into the cavity. I’m into the cavity but I’m not blowing up the face, if I go too far back I’ll blow up the face and I just eyeball it. Then as always, we want to click this edge here and we're going to add a fillet and let's make this fillet 1.5 millimeters. That's just going to add a little edge here and make it a little bit easier to pump it in there.
So now I have my sprue hole and my cavity so I can actually get plastisol into my mold. The next step I usually like to do now put in my holes for my bolts. What I’ve been using is M5 bolts. With M5 rivet nuts and the bolts you can do two things, you can use the bolts plus the rivet nuts to actually hold it together or you can use just the bolts without the nuts for alignment. Usually, I do a combination of the two. So I’ll put some bolts in with the rivet nuts to hold half of the mold in place and then I will put the bottom half with just the bolts into a vise. Now is when you need to decide where you're going to split and again we chose a round lure here so it doesn't really matter which direction. I’m going to split this one from top to bottom along the red plane. I’m going to use this plane right here to do my split so I’ll have a top and a bottom.
So what we want to do is then make sure our bolts go through that area. So I’m going to come over here and looking at the top now, I’m going to create a sketch. I’m going to create it on the top part of my mold so I click there and now what I want to do is create some circles and these circles are going to be five millimeters in diameter. M5 bolt is a 5 millimeter bolt, it doesn’t really matter at this point since you can do whatever size you want. By matching it to your bolt size you can get an idea of whether you have enough space or not, so five millimeter if you were using quarter 20s you'd want to do quarter inch.
Now I want to create a rectangular pattern and I’m going to select my circle. We’re going to go over here now I only need two of these so I change this number to two and then I push it down here and let's do five. The more holes we have here the more we'll save resin but obviously you don't want too many that would impact a lot of different stuff on your mold. Now hit enter and this is where all my holes are going to go and then we're going to finish sketch. We're going to use a different mode so I’m going to click hole I’m going to select that face that I just drew all those circles on and it's going to put a hole there but I want to come over to my hole tool and click sketch multiple holes. It's going to ask me to select the sketch points so I just come in here and click on all of these sketch points.
Now remember, I said I was using M5 bolts so there's a cool feature here in Fusion 360 that I can actually size these holes to the size of the bolt I’m using. The first thing I want to do is create a hole type.
I want a countersink because I have countersink bolts hole type. As soon as I hit clearance, this other area opens up down here and I have ANSI metric in profile which is metric and I have flathead machine screws which I bought. The size I select is M5 fit. I can do normal, I can do close, I can do loose normal. Loose normal usually works for me if you want to get picky you can go close. What you want to make sure you’re getting is enough depth so if I go to the right hand side I just want to pull these all the way through. Click ok.
Venting the Back
Now we have our holes we have our sprue and now we need to work on one of the vents. So I find the back and I’m going to put an air vent on this tail section. I find the air vent to be easier to do at this point than at the next point where we're going to be adding more air vents. So create a new sketch at the back and I’m going to select this back face. I’m going to draw a circle right in the center and I’m going to make it 0.5 millimeters and that's a size that has worked really well for me, it's always a balance between getting the air out and not letting the plastisol go through. One millimeter is too big you'll get lots of little tails and it doesn't hold the plastic. 0.5 millimeter seems to work best. I click finish sketch and I want to extrude this guy and just run it back in until you can see here. It turns into this circle that's going through that ball there. It doesn't matter which way you go through but you just want to make sure you go through and make sure it's set to cut and then click okay. Now I have a nice vent hole there.
Splitting the Mold
Now we're going to get to the fun part. I just clicked home, now we're going to split this in half and that's relatively simple. I just come up here and click split body. Body to split is my mold, my splitting tool this is where I’m going to select this plane in here but as you can see I can't get through there. I come over here and uncheck that eyeball and then come in here and select this plane. Come back in here turn that body back on and click ok. Now I have two parts, mold and mold 1. This is why I named it early on because it saves you a bunch of typing before now. What I do now is I come in here click on that bottom part, I’m just going to label it B for bottom and then when I put a T in there for top. This kind of organization helps me later when I’m coming through and making STL files.
Venting the Rest of the Mold
Now we need to finish up the venting and this is a new trick I’ve learned that seems to work pretty well.
Especially when you have a curly or any master with a lot of detail like this, you don't want to come through and make little holes. So what we're going to do is make a small cut out around the edge of the cavity to absorb the air and then vent that cavity. So I’m going to go to the top view and I’m going to turn off my top mold so it doesn't really matter what side you do this. Now I want to create a sketch on this plane right here you can see I have halves now that I put this hole in here so I click that. Now we're going to use our old friend projects include we're just going to do project include and click project we're going to click here all right and say okay.
Now I have all of these lines in here and then I’m going to create an offset, so from the modify menu offset I can click on this line and it defaults to positive. I actually want negative and we're going to do negative 1.5 and that's why you can see my red line here. Now I have this line here and what I want to do now is I don't want to take this whole area down and I just want this area in here in order for Fusion 360 to work. I need to block that off so I come in here create a line and I’ll come to the back and just click here and come across.
What I’m doing here is I’m creating the borders of my edge and I think it'll make a lot more sense when we go to the next step. So I’m going to click there and go across to their. So now I’m going to hit the escape key so now you can see that I have just this section here. If I mouse over it, it highlights that so that means that's a fully enclosed section which is exactly what I want. I'm going to finish this sketch and I’m going to go do the same thing on the other side. Now you can see I have this little outline section and all we're going to do is extrude these down. So I click extrude and I come in here and I collect click this side and collect this side so I do both at the same time. Now I want to go down so I’m going to type in negative and I think you know -1.5 is probably too much. I'm going to get flashing all around. The typical vent hole is 0.5 and so we're going to stick with that. Now you can see I’ll click ok and that's going to cut this little section here around my mold and that's where my air can go. So again we're going to have hot plastisol shooting down here pushing down, this whole thing is filled with air and it's got to go somewhere so you can go out the back quickly and then it's going to follow into this cavity.
So the next thing we need to do is get this air out of this cavity. This again is the same thing we did last time. I’m going to turn back on my top here and we're going to come over and I’m going to create a sketch and put it on any of these outside areas here. I'm going to draw circles and we can come in now and I put them right on the center line. You can go below if you want to but I think they work just fine here and again 0.5 is my standard. I’m going to create another rectangular pattern and just pull it down and again you're just going to have to play with your mold to see how many of these you actually need. I probably need at least four here if I ended up with one right in the middle of the screw hole, it wouldn't matter too much because again that will vent air just as well as anything else but just line them up to where they're not running against anything you don't want to run them into.
I’m going to click on finish sketch. So now I click extrude and I have to select these profiles. You can see since I did it on the line I have two halves. A trick here is to select the bottom one first then the top one because if I select the top one sometimes the bottom one is hard to click. Select them all and we're just going to drag them all the way across. We click ok. Now again if you want to do more vent holes you can but I think what I have is pretty good but you can have too many. We are all set, all's left to do is export this to STL and print it.
Export to STL and Printing Tips
So to do that you just come over here to each mold part, right click save as STL. This little dialog pops up and I don't change anything in here. High is fine, I think you can get away with medium but I always choose high refinement. Click on ok and then it's going to ask you where you want to save that and you save it to wherever you want to save it and then we slice it and we go from there. Let's go do that real quick.
So this is lychee slicer, the slicer I use. You might use G2 box it's going to be pretty much the same for what we're doing here today. I’m just going to get my STL files that I saved on my desktop and bring them in. I’m selecting both of them and dragging them in here. There's two ways you can really print these molds- sideways or vertically. So I’m just using the rotate onto plate method here so if I print them sideways, this will be the shortest time to print. If I click estimate print time its two hours and 10 minutes but that's an estimate, it's realistically going to take more like four hours. You tend to have more print failures this way than if you rotate them vertically. You can position wherever you want to and you want to make sure you have enough vertical height here. For me, at least, this method produces the best prints but if I estimate print time it's seven, almost eight hours. That's the trade-off you run into.
If this is a prototype, and it's actually going to turn out like I want to I might print them sideways but really I’ve had a lot more failures that way. Again, it's a balance; do you want to try to print it quickly knowing that it might fail or print it this way and know that you're not only going to get the best results but you're going to get the highest success rate. The reason for that is when you print them sideways, you're actually putting a lot of pressure on the edge because there's so much volume when it's pulling away from the fat that it has a tendency to pull and separate from the build plate. There's different ways you can fix that, you can up your exposure time on your base layers but then the problem you run into is it becomes really difficult to get unhooked from the build plate. So this way, again, it takes the longest but it is the most success rate and the highest quality.
If you missed anything there are markers down below. Links to anything I talked about, the printers I use, the resin I use to make these molds, the M5 bolts and the rivet nuts I talked about are all down in the video description.
Hey welcome to Gulfstream Outdoors where I help you get the lure out of your head and onto your line. In part three of this series we're going to actually shoot some molds I 3D printed and we're going to see how they turn out. Let’s go!
Processing the Molds
So to post process these molds after you've done printing them, we're going to do a two-part wash in acetone. The first wash is what I call the “dirty wash”- I don't change the acetone that much it's just really to knock off a bulk of the uncured resin off the mold. Once I get done with that I rub it down pretty good, maybe dunk it again and then I move it over to my wash-and-cure station. Here and I dunk it one more time in cleaner acetone and give it a spin, about 30 seconds. With the resin I use you can't really have it soaking in acetone or IPA or anything for too long or it starts to break down so I give it a quick spin for 30 seconds dry it off and look over it real quick to make sure I have all the resin off. Then, I pop it back and I cure it for 25 minutes. So for some resins that's an insanely long time, but for psoriatech scope that I use that is the recommended cure time. Interesting fact, when you don't switch modes on the washing cure you get a wild ride. Elephant’s foot is caused by overexposure of the resin and we do that when we print it flat against the build plate. Those first layers are overexposed and it spreads out the resin or actually the exposure of the resin and it gives you a lip (or they call it elephant's foot). It's really easy to take care of, I just knock it down with some sandpaper give it a few strokes there and we're all good and we're nice and flat.
Shooting the Molds
So today we're going to shoot a few different molds, going to heat up plastisol. We have my multi-cavity worm mold we have this weird, I don't know, headless salamander I guess I would call it. We have the mold I made in part two of this video a little Ned kind of ball tail. The reason I’m shooting multiple molds is they all have kind of different venting characteristics. The last Ned mold I have only has a back vent, the other Ned ball mold I have has the side vents that we did in the video. The headless salamander mold has side vents in part, but not all throughout, the body. The earthworm mold has only very large back hole vents, you'll see what trouble that causes. As always when you're shooting plastisol, proper ventilation and a mask is critical. So you'll see here how I use the M5 bolts and the M5 rivet nuts to get this thing all squared up in place and cinch down. Now you'll see on a few of these molds I don't actually put M5 bolts throughout the whole mold because I’m going to use my bench vises to clamp them down into place. I find it's just a little bit easier to deal with you have less screws and bolts to remove at the end and it holds pretty tight and it's secured in place very, very nicely. I’m actually going to do a two part injection, I’m going to first inject them all with chartreuse then I’m going to go back and clip some tails off and we're going to come back and shoot this kind of purplish galaxy kind of color. This will show that we can actually get two parts of the plastisol to fuse together in these molds and there's nothing weird.
Let's check out the results! These are very interesting to me because I’ve never actually done these types of molds with different venting back-to-back. The molds that had the side venting that I put on in part two, they certainly worked. There's no air bubbles to really speak of, it seemed to vent quite well and I actually got a decent amount of flashing right there, no major air bubbles or anything. But I get a lot of flashing and that's, I think, the vents are too big. The interesting thing here is if you look at this Ned ball mold that I did without any venting other than a single vent in the back, it has a little bit of flashing as well but obviously not as much flashing as the other ones. Then you look at the earthworm mold and it has an oversized vent in the back and it has no flashing and no real air bubbles, although I do have one where I did the laminate that got an air bubble stuck in it in one part but even all the other worms around it came out fine.
Resin vs. Aluminum
This leads me to an interesting theory, I think that the resin molds are nowhere near as precise as aluminum molds. Any aluminum CNC machine, you're going to get a production quality aluminum mold from it. It’s going to have tolerances at least in the thousands of an inch that's .0001 inches which ends up being like .002 millimeters. My 3D resin printer is pretty darn good by default, it does .05 millimeters and I can get it down to .01 millimeters but I can't get it down to .002 millimeters so I think any venting that I have that I can actually render the detail on is going to be too big and cause flashing now and on top of that. 3D resin printers are not very precise, the edges are not perfectly flat like you'll get with a CNC aluminum mold. They have variations, the resin I’m using has a three percent plus or minus shrinkage. Once you cure it so all that adds up to what appears to be a flat surface but it actually is a relatively uneven surface. I think that plays to our advantage here and those uneven surfaces actually are uneven enough to allow the air to escape so you don't need like this super complex venting system that you would need with an aluminum mold because it's just not as precise that makes our design a lot easier. I got air pockets but I got the air pockets in places that I couldn't really add venting anyways, they were up on the top part of the mold not on the side of the mold where my vents were. I think that might be due to not applying enough pressure on the chute, not shooting cold enough or hot enough. If you have any suggestions on what you want me to try to fix, please leave a comment below and I’ll give it a try in another video. Really there's no better way to produce a prototype mold or a mold that you're going to shoot for yourself than 3D resin printing compared to CNC aluminum.
Printers and Prices
I have two printers, the Elegoo Saturn and the Epax E10 both mid-sized resin printers. The Saturn will run you about $500 before taxes the Epax E10 will run you about high $600 before taxes. I also have the Creality ld002h that runs about $250. Any of those printers will produce molds for you so you're getting into a machine for between $250 and $700 and you'll have some resin costs. Let's just call it right around another $100 for resin and other stuff, then you add a little free software fusion 360 blender and you can be producing molds. The molds are going to cost you each in materials about two to five dollars depending on how they are. I can confidently say for under a thousand bucks you can produce probably hundreds of molds and that's incredible compared to even a desktop CNC machine which is going to run you a few thousand dollars. You got probably $10-$20 in materials and frankly I think it's a lot more complicated because now I need to learn, in addition to CAD I have, to learn CAM to run my CNC machine. At the end of the day aluminum is far superior to resin, it gives you far better results. Less flashing and less hassle but adding a resin 3D printer to your design step makes sure that you have a viable lure that swims exactly how you want it to before you send it off to a CNC machine.
Hey guys I hope you learned a ton from this series. Hit that subscribe button, I have a ton more lure videos coming up some really exciting projects that I’m happy to see. I’m super close to a thousand subscribers and as soon as I get to a thousand I’m going to be doing a really, really cool giveaway that I think you will all enjoy. Take care- tight lines. Get the lure out of your head and onto your line.
I made this awesome 3d printed injection mold, and I've shot hundreds of baits through it in the past few weeks. I'll show you how you can take your lure designs and turn them into injection mold in this multi-part series. Let's get rolling!
In part one of this series, we're going to cover the 3d printers, the resins, and we're going to touch briefly on how you print these molds. In part 2, we're going to go much deeper into the mold design to show you some of the tips and tricks I've learned during this process. I've spent the past few months printing tons and tons of injection molds. I have made tons and tons of mistakes while doing that. The pile of errors I have is much more extensive than the accumulation of successes over the past few weeks. I've hit a stride of good repeatable results in 3d printed injection molds, and we're here to cover the first part of that, which is what you need to get started.
Resin 3D Printer
First, of course, you're going to need a resin 3d printer. People have made injection molds from FDM printers, but none of the materials are designed to withstand hot plastisol heat. It concerns me when I see people injecting PLA, PetG or ABS molds because their heat deflection temperature and melting temperature are below the standard temperatures. You inject plastisol at around 320 degrees. They all have a heat deflection temperature of approximately 230. Heat deflection temperature is just a fancy way of saying when the material gets this hot, and there's some pressure against it; it starts to deform or deflect. That's why I strongly recommend 3d resin printers instead. Not only are you going to get way better detail and way better quality, but you can also use a resin that has a heat deflection temperature of 385 degrees which is well above the standard temperatures you're going to inject plastisol.
So what printer to get? I have an Elegoo Saturn, which you've seen in some of my other videos. It is considered a mid-sized consumer resin 3d printer. A couple of things to keep in mind when you're looking at resin 3d printers; some of the main differences generally revolve around the size of the print volume and the type of screen. My Saturn is considered mid-size. It has a print volume of 192X120X200mm/7.55inX4.72inX7.87in. I can fit just about any mold I want. A few customers come to me with giant molds that I can't print, but it covers most of the basics, six-inch and below molds.
I also have a Creality LD-002H. You can certainly print molds with that. You're going to be somewhat limited in width, but if you want to do single cavity molds or you have small crappie-sized lures, it will work for you. The Saturn retails for $499 on amazon. If you see any higher prices, that's people just trying to scalp them right now because the demand is high and the supply is low. So hold out for that $495 – $499 price range before you buy one. The Creality printer I have, I want to say, is right around $200. It's a superb starter printer too, and again they're both mono screens, which will get you faster print time. The resin we'll be talking about requires longer exposure. You'll want to make sure you're getting a mono screen to prolong the life of your 3d printer. The other thing you can look at on the 3d printer is the large size 3d printers like the Peopoly Phenom and The Phenom XL. I wouldn't strongly suggest if it's your first 3d printer, you avoid those printers. I think the Saturn and the Epax X10 are the sizes that make a lot of sense, even for your first printer. If you go too small, you're going to be disappointed. If you go too big, I think you're going to run into many printing problems that come with the printer's size. The Saturn and the Epax are both in that sweet spot where it's going to be big enough to do just about everything you want to do, and it's not going to cause you too many headaches. The longer that screen is on exposing your resin, the shorter its life will be, so you want to get a mono 3d printer.
Next, let's talk about the resin. The only resin I can recommend is Siraya Tech Sculpt Resin. Again, its heat deflection temperature is roughly 380-ish degrees which should be well above what you need to shoot your plastisol. It is a tricky resin to print with. It took me a long time to dial in the settings on my printer, so know that you're going to have to spend a little more time with your printer in getting it dialed correctly.
The major downside with the sculpt resin is it does require a heated enclosure or some way to heat the resin to get it up to about 30 degrees celsius before it prints consistently. I had all kinds of problems before putting it into my enclosure to keep that temperature both high and stable. I'll have a link in the description to my enclosure video. It's going to add about $150 to your cost. I'll have another video and blog coming up shortly where I look at a different method of keeping the resin heated. I'm waiting for a part to come in for that build, and we're going to put that on my Creality printer and see if I can get that going with sculpt.
Also, a sculpt is a kind of a bear to clean. I use acetone sculpt to clean it. You don't want to have it immersed in alcohol or acetone or anything for longer than about 30 seconds when you're going through the cleaning process. It tends to break down and get extra gloopy. With acetone, I can dip it in there. It's pretty intense, and it evaporates quickly. I can drop it in there, shake it in there for 30 seconds, pull it out, and it's going to start drying and evaporating immediately. At this point, you might be like saying, “dude, that's way too complicated.” It's not that difficult if you have been pouring soft plastic lures. If you've been doing hard plastic lures with resins, this is all kind of in the same ballpark. It's just a lot of different terminology, so don't let it scare you away.
Let's talk about the actual process of printing these molds. One of the things that tripped me up when I got into 3d resin printing is that most people who use them use them to print miniatures and models and little sculptures. They have most of the tips and tricks you'll find are around those types of prints, and one of the things you'll see almost right off the bat is don't print on the build plate and hollow out your prints. Yes, you can print a mold hollow, but you're significantly weakening the structure. Remember, when we inject mold these, we're going to smash these together in a vise with some nuts and bolts to get them to close properly.
If you make it hollow, you're adding a ton of flex in there. Not to mention, it makes the actual printing process a lot more complicated. You have to add holes throughout the mold to drain all of the resin that will get trapped inside. If you don't, it's just way way too complicated. It's a little bit more resin to print it solid, but you're going to get a much more structurally sound and far better mold if you do print it solid. We're talking like two or three dollars worth of resin extra.
Next up, you'll hear people say never print directly on the build plates, and you know, if I have a miniature with many delicate parts, absolutely don't print on the build plate, but I have a large solid chunk of resin. If I try to position that off the build plate and put support structure all around it, I'm asking for a print failure. That mold will be very heavy, and those support structures from your slicing software are not really made to hold that large heavy of a chunk. What you want to do is, you want to put it flat on the build plate but not flat on its back on the widest portion. You want to print it flat either on the side edge or the best way to do it, vertically. Now, printing it vertically is the longest way to do it in terms of print time. It produces the absolute best results with the fewest failures. Once I started printing vertically, I could get away with some crazy stuff like this print I pulled off, which I think has five molds on it on my Saturn. The benefit of doing it that way is that time-wise, it is the same amount of time to print that big giant batch of molds to print one of the tallest molds on that plate. The downside to printing is that your vat cannot hold that much resin, so I got up every three hours to top off the resin vat while printing, which was a little annoying. Don't go that far, but you can print three, four, or five smaller molds at a time in the same amount of time it takes you to print one mold, and that is awesome.
One final tip on printing directly to the build plate when you're designing your mold, you'll want to make a chamfer angled edge around all of the sides of the mold. In whatever 3d modeling program you're using, that will help you get it off the build plate later.
When part two is done, you'll see it in my next blog. In the meantime, check out my other blogs. Take care and tight lines.