Intro: Rapid Prototyping - 3-D Printing to Make Masters
By using a 3-D printer to make your original prototype, it is then possible to make duplicates of your design quickly and cost effective using the mold making process. ComposiMold can be used to make the molds and castings rapidly and then re-melted to Re-use.. Works great together!
The process for Rapid Prototyping:
Design your part or product. Get as much detail as possible.
Make a prototype. With a 3-D printer, it takes knowing how to make a drawing in a 3-D CAD program. Their are a number of 3-D CAD programs available. Wizbe Innovations (ComposiMold) has used Solidworks, Rhino3D, and Alibre. Lots of others are also available. Some provide free versions. The most important part is the software must be able to handle STL files.
Print your 3-D part. We have used http://www.zoomrp.com/ and with success. We have also used parts from Shapeway.com. This wheel is printed with our Lulzbot printer. This wheel was downloaded from Thingiverse.com (thank you!)
Typically, the 3-D parts will be hollow to reduce cost of the printing, so keeping the part from floating is a challenge. Add sand inside the 3-D printed part with a piece of clay to keep it in. Also, you can hot glue the part to the bottom of the container.
Make your mold by pouring the mold making material over your part. Let the ComposiMold solidify. When hardened remove the original and cast your new parts. These parts were cast with urethane, but epoxy, or silicones would work well also. Use a mold release to improve de-molding.
Thanks! And let me know what questions you have!