Introduction: Your Head Cast in Metal - Photogrammetry > 3D Printing > Metal Casting

About: Brazilian / Designer

In this project, I’ll show how it’s possible to transform your FDM prints into metal, in a simple and inexpensive process.
The possibilities of applying this process are diverse. Even jewelry mechanical parts can be obtained through this method! I hope you like it, I tried to keep it as simple and cheap as possible. This work was developed in the MakerLab of Facamp with my friends’ Gabriel Barboza help, for the casting process, Livia Rocha & Vitor Damiani for Photogametry and Fabio Iori for the correction of the written part.

Step 1: Materials

Safety First!

  • Protective goggles

  • Protective gloves

  • Coat

  • Closed shoes

  • Pants

  • Protective mask with activated carbon filter (heavy metals are toxic!)

For Molding

For Printing

  • 3D Printer
  • PLA Filament (or Wathever)

For Slicing

  • Simplify 3D

For Photogametry

  • Camera
  • Tripod (if you prefer)
  • Autodesk Recap (Free for student)
  • A nice friend

For Casting

  • Metal with low melting temperature (Lead in this case)
  • Torch
  • Crucible
  • Refractory brick

Step 2: Take the Photos

Autodesk made a video that explains very well all the details you need to know to make a perfect photogametry!
To make your own photogrammetry you will need a good friend, to stand still and to stay awake!

Step 3: Upload Your Photos

With the photos in hand and with the software (Recap) installed, just upload the photos on the server for processing and wait a few minutes until it’s complete (explanatory GIF).

Step 4: Repair Your Model

Once your model is processed by the Autodesk server, you will probably need to make some adjustments, such as deleting some surfaces and closing some holes to close the geometry to be 3D printed.
The video above objectively shows how to do this correction step.

You can see the complete 3D model by clicking here!

Step 5: Prepare to Print

Now it’s time to print yourself! The piece must be strong enough to be demolded without damaging the mold.

Printing settings

  • Slicer: Simplify 3D
  • Printer : Sethi3d S3
  • Filament : PLA (Ext 210C / Bed 65C)
  • Resolution : 0.05mm
  • Infill: 15%
  • Infill Type: Grid
  • Shell: 3
  • No Support
  • Printing Time : 3h
  • Weight: 8g

Step 6: The Print

In this case, I chose not to make any type of finish on the part before making the mold because it was printed on PLA, so sanding could take details of the model. However, it would be perfectly possible to finish it with acetone before making the mold, if the piece was made of ABS.

Step 7: Mold

To make the silicone mold you need a base and a wall, ideally leaving between 1 to 1.5cm between the part and the walls of the mold, to assure consistency and to not waste material. To place and seal the wall and the base, it’s interesting to use hot glue. The sealing is important to avoid any type of leakage.
To prepare the casting silicone, simply follow the information in the packaging. It’s usually enough to mix the silicone and the catalyst in the correct proportions. Wait until the mold solidifies. When the mold has dried, simply cut it on the sides to remove the 3D piece and use a tape to seal it again to the casting.

Step 8: Casting

Casting time! In this step, it’s important to use all the safety equipment. You will work with material at high temperature, and some metals can be toxic because they release heavy metal vapor.

To melt the metal, use a container with a melting temperature higher than the metal to be melted. In this case, we melted lead so the steel can calmly held the flame of our torch. Wait until all the metal is visibly liquid - the time may vary according to the material and the quantity, so be careful. When pouring metal into the mold, look out to not burn yourself or to not drop metal on surfaces that may catch fire. The liquid metal tends to solidify quickly, so do not waste time to fill the mold as it can get stuck inside the can. After casting, just wait for the mold and the part to cool naturally.

Step 9: Unmolding

If all the steps were done correctly, you will have your awesome copy in metal.

Step 10: Voilà!

Enjoy the result and take some pictures!
You can polish your piece if you want, but, personally, I did like the rough look of my piece. If you enjoyed, please favorite my project! You can message me if any question pops up :D

Casting Contest

Runner Up in the
Casting Contest