Introduction: Create Custom Metal Parts at Home| (with Pewter and 3D Printed Moulds)

This is a short tutorial that shows you how you can make metal parts, at home, in less than 1 hour, in a few easy steps.

If you like this instructable you can support me having a look at my IndieGoGo campaign here; you can now get your LumiPocket 3D Printer, a project that I started one year ago as a simple hobbyist, and now has became (hopefully) my full time job.

Safety is important!

Casting metal is serious business, and very dangerous. Even when using proper safety gear, and observing all necessary precautions, serious accidents can still occur. Lack of proper safety gear, unsafe surroundings, or unsafe procedure increase both the likelihood and severity of accidents.

Read more about metal casting safety here

Step 1: Required Materials

Pewter is a malleable metal alloy. It has a very low melting point, that makes possible to cast it with just a propane torch. Today, pewter is used in decorative objects, mainly collectible statuettes and figurines, game figures, aircraft and other models, (replica) coins, pendants, plated jewellery and so on.

In this guide we will use:

  • Lead free pewter
  • Ladle
  • Propane torch
  • LumiPocket 3D Printer (you can get your here, hurry before the campaign ends!)
  • Industrial Blend FunToDo resin
  • Handheld Infrared Thermometer

Step 2: 3D Print the Moulds

You can model the moulds with any CAD program or download one of the many 3d molds already available on websites like Thingiverse.

Once you have the 3D file, use your 3D printer to create them.

This instructable covers how to print them using the LumiPocket; other similar 3D printers can be used, of course.

This is the setup we used int this guide:

  • LumiPocket 3D Printer
  • Acer P1500 projector on standard tripod
  • Pc with Control Software
  • Industrial Blend Red Resin
  • Layer curing time: 1,5seconds
  • Layer height: 100 micron
  • Total printing time: 25 minutes
  • Post-Curing : 30 minutes under UV light

Open you STL file with the provided software and print it. Use the Industrial Blend Resin (you can find more info on the resin here) for printing. This is important since it has been tested from -45C to +225C.

Step 3: Pewter Casting

Using the propane torch and the ladle, take the pewter to its melting point.

The pewter suggested in this guide has a melting point of 138°C. Using and infrared thermometer will allow you precise control of the melting pooint and gives the better results.

Using the ladle, pour the melted metal in the molds.

Let me remind you again to check all the Safety and Health information before. You can find some here.

Step 4: Results

The results in this guide are just one of my first attempts, and practice will give you better control over small details.

A good design of the moulds is also very important for good results.

Not bad if you think they have been made in just one hour!

Note: the mould shows a little wear in the photos after pouring the pewter.

The reason is that because I had only available at home a lead free version of pewter with a melting point of 240°C, and the mould was made with Industrial Blend Resin that is tested up to 250°C, so I was really close to its limits.

In the guide I suggested using a low melting point pewter with a m.p. of 138°C so the resin will show no damage at all and can be reused. Have fun!

Step 5: Some Improvements

By using French talk on the mould, and a lower melting temperature powter, results become interesting!

(Left miniature)

Comments

author
Battlespeed (author)2014-10-20

The title is misleading. I thought this was about 3D printing with metal, but it's not. It's about casting with metal, using 3D printer to create the mold, which isn't anything new.

author
madaeon (author)Battlespeed2014-10-20

Hi, I choose the 3d printing with metals since it involves 3d printing to make metal parts in very little time. What you refer to is called "direct metal 3d printing" or simply "metal 3d printing", and THAT would have been a clearly misleading title.

And I have written clearly that you can have similar results with another 3d printer based on the same technology, with the same resin or one with the same technical specifications.

author
suomy.nona.14 (author)madaeon2015-05-20

the fact remains that you are NOT 3D printing with metals. u are 3D printing with plastics.
if your title is not '3D printing with plastics', then you are misleading.
hope yr not gonna advertise yr business the same way, or u will soon have a lawsuit brought against you by non-stupid ppl

author

ohwait, you dropped yr product details, this IS advertising

author

I am going to have to agree with you on that. It kind of feels like an advertisement for the indiegogo campaign sadly.

author

The guy is trying to start a company, give him a break

author
madaeon (author)TristramBudel2014-10-22

Hi, thank you! By the way, your works are really inspiring! We are in netherlands now for the dutch design week!

author
Jack Rodgers (author)Battlespeed2014-10-22

I agree. I have no experience with either and read this. I think a title like:

Use a 3D printed mold to cast metal (Pewter)

is more accurate. There is wiggle room on the actual title.

author
jimmiek (author)2014-10-27

Thanks for the instructable - some of us may not know as much as your detractors, (myself for one), so it's always nice to see how some different things can be made, and made in different ways! One day I may need this knowledge, and then I will have it.

BTW, Since a CNC machine costs in the tens of thousands (the one where I worked in a granite shop cost between 1/4 and 1/2 a million dollars), I think the comment that suggested you use one was probably just a little bit out of line <]:>)

author
scottjanousek (author)2014-10-20

Pro Tip: If you coat the inside of the mold with very fine (baby) powder you will get better results and the object will come out easier.

author
suatbatu (author)scottjanousek2014-10-22

That is the most usefull advice from the whole instructable. Thanks man

author
swaxman (author)2014-10-21

Great Instructable, hopefully one day everyone will have a 3d printer , then purchase , download plans and print there new eyefone.
* Commentators unless you've attempted this project yourself . Please keep your intimidating self glorifying suggestions to yourself

author
e5frog (author)2014-10-21

You could print the positive image and then make a mold from a material that can take the heat.

author
fschoffer (author)2014-10-21

Go Marvin! ;)

author
Kafukai (author)2014-10-19

This is great thinking.

But you should use a CNC milling machine, make ceramic moulds(ceramic can hold high temperature) and then cast it. The plastic was ruined from the heat, but you can cast "cold" materials instead( resin, silicone, cement, plaster...).

Good luck :-)

author
madaeon (author)Kafukai2014-10-19

Hi, the plastic was ruined because I had only available at home a lead free version of pewter with a melting point of 240°C, and the mould was made with Industrial Blend Resin that is tested up to 250°C, so I was really close to its limits. In the guide I suggested using a low melting point pewter with a m.p. of 138°C so the resin will show no damage at all!

author
Kafukai (author)madaeon2014-10-20

You also could use a cermaic coating(spray/paint) on the mold. It's cheaper than buy/make another machine. I don't know what th eresult would be but you can test it.

author
MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-10-19

Very interesting process! Thanks for sharing!

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Bio: My latest project: an high quality, affordable, easy to use 3D printer: the LumiPocket! If you want ot support check it here: tiny.cc\lumipocket
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