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Step 3: Prepare the Print for molding

The 3d printing service that I chose (3DArttoPart) uses a powder/binder system for printing the model.  While this is probably the least expensive of the 3D techniques, it leaves a surface that is less than optimal for pulling molds or painting.  Think "100-grit sandpaper" and you have a pretty good idea of what it's like.  If you want to spend more money, you could get a much smoother model to work with, and it would be a perfectly legitimate argument to say that the extra money spent would be worth it.

To smooth the surface to the level that I wanted, I quickly realized that sanding the surface of the print wasn't going to work - the surface was too hard and inconsistent - so I had to come up with something else.  The technique I settled on was one where I'd flood the surface with 2-3 coats of laquer sanding sealer (light sanding between coats) followed by rattle-can FILLER primer (not sealer) and a series of passes of sanding, chasing details, priming, sanding, chasing details, etc, until I was happy with the surface.  Dupli-Color brand Filler-Primer seems to work the best for me - most other brands I tried stay too gummy.  Epoxy-based filler primer would be ideal - great build up and super-easy sanding characteristics - but it's a bit expensive ($20/can).

Once your surfaces are smooth, it's time to fill in undercuts and open loops that might "trap" the mold as well as just make parts harder to extract from the molds.  You don't have to make the areas "flush" but it's a good idea to minimize them without compromising the design.  You'll also want to add small details and details that didn't come through in the print.  For example, areas where a bump map is used on your model, you'll have to recreate that detail with clay (epoxy sculpt in my case) or hard wax.  This is also the stage where you can cover one part of a mating surface with clay and press it onto it's corresponding part on the model to create a "key" so that when the model is assembled it will fit together perfectly.

Model preparation is important - remember that the surface quality of your castings will never be better than that of the "master" object - so take your time in the preparation steps.
<p>If the silicone is degassed you should not have this issue with the resin cast parts under pressure</p>
<p>Agreed. The ideal, IMO, is a properly de-gassed silicone mold, and pressure cast resin to almost completely eliminate bubbles in the casting. My purpose in this step was to show what can happen if you don't properly de-gas your silicone, and you pressure cast in that mold. It was also to show how effective pressure casting is at eliminating bubbles in the casting.</p>
<p>That's one beautiful piece of art! Looks amazing. She's bad-ass! :) Thanks for sharing the steps to your talent.</p>
<p>This instructable is a tour de force in creative and scientific mastery. I am stunned at your talent and incredible attention to detail.</p><p>...in '80s-speak: You totally rock, dude!</p><p>Thanks so much for taking the time to document and post this incredible (and awesomely successful) project. I am really, really impressed!</p><p>Cheers! </p>
Thanks, Syntegrator - it was a challenging project, but I learned a lot (which is the whole point). I'm glad you liked it :)
<p>woah you're a master!</p>
<p>I'd like to thank you for your detailed description of finishing your 3D printed figurine. For me, one of the best tips was using putty and Duplicolor filler primer. This made a huge difference in the final surface finish. Much appreciated and awesome job!</p><p>Gunter</p>
Hi Marko, <br> <br>The service I used for the &quot;print&quot; was 3DArtToPart.com - but I don't know if they're still running(?). The print, at the time, cost about $250 which was far more affordable than the $7K-$10K quotes I was getting from places that provided a better surface finish. Prices have come down and quality has gone up since that time - so you'll probably have to do a little searching around. <br> <br>There are a number of places that will print a model for you, but they seem to come and go. Protodemon.com was a place that specialized in outstanding surface quality and detail - but they seem to have disappeared. I would search for 3D Printing Services, or Rapid Prototyping Services and just check around for the best bang for the buck. A good place to ask around would be the zBrush.com forums - those guys do a lot 3D printing. Good luck! :)
HI - Awesome instructable! If I may ask, where did you have the object 3D printed and how expensive was it? I would like to follow your instructable with a smaller, less complicated 3D character and I am new to the 3D printing world. <br> <br>Thanks again for this great instructable! --Marko
Nice ! Thank you
wooow you are friking awesome!
thank you for taking the time to document this great, instructable - i learned a lot from your work, and will read this several times - Great mold making and beautifull character
My god, you have left me breathless throughout all the instructive reading. The quality that you has developed to generate all the steps to creating a perfect (why not say) molds and models, makes it can receive more than one award. To say that and from now this instructable became part of my book training (I'm not writing a book, just learning this), my sincere congratulations on the entire process of manufacturing parts, and this spectacular steep-by-steep instructive. <br>By the way my brother wants to know what is the approximate cost of the figure, in materials and paint-work, figuratively &quot;comparing it&quot; with other models that may be for sale, warcraft, mass effect, etc. ..
Thank you for the kind words :) It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot in the process. <br> <br>As far as cost of materials, there's probably somewhere around $80 in resin and another $45 or so in paint depending on what brands and colors you buy. I don't know how that compares to some of the other models for sale - but I'm assuming this would be quite a bit more since it's not mass produced. <br> <br>Thanks again - I'm glad you enjoyed the Instructable :)
Wow, this is an amazing project. The final outcome is incredible. <br>This just goes to show the large amount of skill and hard work needed to create this piece of art. Your painting skills really make this thing &quot;pop&quot;. <br>I really enjoy reading your presentation.
Where did you get your vacuum degassing machine? Never seen one like that!
I got it off eBay ;) It's a <u>Welch Chemstar 1402N Vacuum Pump</u>. It can actually &quot;boil&quot; water!
Thanks for the info!! Great instructable :) Is the chamber itself made by Chemstar too?!

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