Picture of Making a 3-D Printed Mold
I recently had a project where I needed to create a couple dozen identical foam ear shapes.  Casting from a mold is the clear solution here.  However, the ears needed to fit onto an existing product, so I knew some tweaking of the design would be necessary to get it right before I could make the dozens.  I was able to use Instructables' Objet Connex printers to make my molds, based on CAD drawings I made, and after a couple tweaks I got the design right and was able to make the full run.

In this Instructable I'll share what I learned about how to draw a CAD for a mold and 3D printing it out.  I will assume you have access to and moderate proficiency with a CAD system (it doesn't matter what kind).  For the printing, if you want to make your own but don't have access to a 3D printer, there are many services which print for a fee, or Instructables may be able to do that for you.  The actual casting I will leave out as I was using an expanding polyurethane foam, which is not a generally applicable material.

Unfortunately my print picture set and my mold CAD picture set do not show the same mold.  The pictures of the print, in the second half of the instructable, are of a slightly more complex mold, with a two-plane parting line.  The process I outline is the same for both, however.
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How did you get access to the Object Connex printer? Does Instructables run a print service? Note that the ABS created by a PolyJet printer like that is not quite the same as the ABS filament most people are using on their own desktop printers. I got some turtle wax to see if it works on regular ABS.

canadametals3 months ago

rachel can i get your direct number? i have a furniture(antique reproduction) project, know very little about cad and all the keying for mold can you help?

poharescrz1 year ago
Nice job! What CAD software are you using in this instructable? Thanks
rachel (author)  poharescrz1 year ago
I use a program called Moment of Inspiration ( for most of my projects.
espdp22 years ago
At first I thought, what's the point, how useful could this be? But then I remembered how hard it is to find really good molded insoles for my feet. Then I thought, I could even make insoles and sandles that perfectly fit anyone's feet! This is most impressive.
Thanks, and Merry Christmas!!
maxwelljets2 years ago
What mold release compound did you use? I am also trying to make expanding foam parts on a 3d printed mold.
rachel (author)  maxwelljets2 years ago
I ended up using Turtle Wax, yeah the car stuff. It worked fine, not great but not bad. The silicone spray I tried was noticeably worse, which surprised me. I'd be interested if you find something better, as the wax needed to be spread in just the right thickness in order to keep the foam from sticking, but also not impede its expansion. I'm almost done with a foam casting Instructable which I should be able to publish in the next few days, with more information. If you come up with a better release agent I'd love to hear about it!
APW wax is what you need, here's an example. Don't know where you from but you should look for it ;) Looks great but small question; Why didn't you 3D print the part en Cast the mould? would have been cheaper no?
maxwelljets2 years ago
And what kind of expanding foam did you use? was it the two-part A B foam, or was it great stuff/ spray foam?
dscott42 years ago
Awesome tutorial, thanks for sharing.

I have posted a link to this on the Shapeways blog

Resolution is quite a bit finer than my RepRap. I want one of those.
excited to see the final product!
randofo2 years ago
Nice molds!