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3D Printer Makes Castable Wax Patterns

Solidscape Inc. has announced the S500 3D printer for precision investment casting and rapid prototyping of complex geometries as well as new castable modeling and support materials. Capable of producing directly castable wax patterns, the S500 3D printer, when coupled with the new materials, can help eliminate the need for expensive tooling, the company says. By streamlining front- and back-end processes, the S500 is designed to make the printing of directly castable parts and the creation of custom molds from wax patterns repeatable and scalable, the company adds.

“The new S500 high-precision 3D printer and materials offer industrial companies the ability to create accurate, complex, precise wax patterns that can be directly cast in most metals and alloys or used to create silicone or master molds, eliminating the need for expensive custom tooling,” said Fabio Esposito, Solidscape president, in the product announcement.

Shown here on its base platform, the new S500 3D printer for investment casting and rapid prototyping of complex geometries can produce wax patterns for direct casting in most metals and alloys. Image courtesy of Solidscape Inc.

Shown here on its base platform, the new S500 3D printer for investment casting and rapid prototyping of complex geometries can produce wax patterns for direct casting in most metals and alloys. Image courtesy of Solidscape Inc.

Solidscape describes the S500 as “ideal for industrial casting manufacturers who produce high-precision, complex parts where dimensional accuracy and superior external and internal surface finishes are critical.” S500 specifications reported by Solidscape include a 6x6x4-in. (152.4×152.4×101.6-mm) build envelope and an X,Y axis resolution of 5,000×5,000 dots per in. (197×197 dots/mm). Its accuracy is ±0.005 in. (0.127 mm) for the first inch (25.4 mm) and ±0.001 in. (0.0254 mm) for each additional inch across the X, Y and Z axes.

The S500 deploys Solidscape’s new Solidjet Technology, which builds support structures of solid wax. This allows for organic shapes with undercuts, overhangs, thin walls and interlocking parts, as well as producing castings with appropriate interior and exterior surface finish, the company reports. The company explains further that in addition to the Solidjet Technology, the S500’s Drop on Demand technology positions drops of material precisely along X, Y and Z axes while its rotating milling blade levels each print layer, delivering controllable layer thickness down to 44 µm.

The S500 provides fully automated, one-touch operation that includes the ability to format CAD files for 3D printing automatically. Miscellaneous features include PC-to-printer connectivity through high-speed USB 2.0 or Ethernet and status monitoring that provides fully automated fault detection that restarts the build from the point of interruption.

The company’s new Midas modeling material provides a clean burnout with no thermal expansion and is designed for metal casting, including stainless steel, nickel and various alloys. Melt-I, a non-toxic, hands-free dissolvable support material, reduces stress points on shapes with thin walls and delicate details. This characteristic, explains Solidscape, enables manufacturers to produce parts with intricate or complex geometries. Further, the combination of the S500 and the Midas materials can integrate into existing manufacturing and casting processes, avoiding the need for special burnout schedules and equipment, according to the company.

“As a premier supplier of complete-to-print, high-volume, complex thin-wall investment castings and fully-finished casting-based subassemblies and components to automotive, aerospace and other industries, we are always inventing improved methods for casting or automating the shop floor. We were very impressed with the high level of detail of the patterns printed using the new S500, in addition to the outstanding overall service experience we have enjoyed working with Solidscape,” said Scott Biederman, vice president of technology, Hitchiner Manufacturing Co. in a testimonial supplied by Solidscape.

For more details on the S500 3D printer, the Midas modeling material and the Melt-I support material, visit Solidscape.

Download the S500 product sheet.

Learn more about the Midas castable material here.

Learn more about the Melt-I support material here.

Download the material safety data sheets for Midas and Melt-I.

See why DE‘s Editors selected the S500 3D printer as their Pick of the Week.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@digitaleng.news.