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3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

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Posted (edited) · 3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

Hi Ultimakers,

I would like to share my experience with making patterns for metal casting with my Ultimaker Original.  I started a business last year with the intention of setting up a metal casting foundry tailored to casting 3D printed patterns in metal specifically for the 3D printing community.  I have a small industrial unit and have made most of my own equipment; one small furnace and a much larger one that is a work in progress.


I have the means to produce small sand castings, but I hope to expand this to include investment casting in the future.  I am using oil bonded sand to produce the moulds and I have tried aluminium and brass so far.  After a lot of failed castings in the beginning, I ditched my 'home made' green sand and bought in some proper foundry oil bonded sand.  This improved things tremendously and I am now getting good castings.


One of the reasons for choosing sand casting is that 3D printing seems to be a perfect match for making sand casting patterns.  Often a split pattern is ideal for many shapes, this is where the pattern is cut along the parting line; the beauty of this is that the need for support material can often be eliminated.

The Easter Island head I cast last week was 34mm tall and was printed in PLA at 0.2mm layer height after some light sanding I simply pushed the pattern into the sand, smoothed out the parting line and rammed up the second part of the flask.  I melted some brass and poured it into the mould.  Some minutes later, I knocked out the flask and out came a successful casting.

I will be casting more objects very soon and will keep posting my results here.


I would be very interested in questions, suggestions and comments.  I would be happy to offer advice on designing patterns for sand casting.


If you would like to check out my progress so far, please check out my profile for the link to my web site.









Edited by shadowfiend
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Posted · 3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

I would also like to see photos of the casting process: the mould, venting channels, the furnace, pouring the melt in, rough casted model without post-processing, etc... Although I am not into metal casting, I think it is interesting and educative. The main difference between a metal part and a plastic part, is that the weight makes it feel more valuable, even if they look identical.


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Posted · 3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

Hi geert,

I have a website and YouTube channel, would it be ok to post the link and embed the videos here?  The last thing I want to do is appear spammy.



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Posted · 3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

Hi @shadowfiend , I think it's ok if you would post the link here. Perhaps it would be more informing if you shared some video's separately instead of the full channel (everyone can find that following the video's). And per video perhaps you could give some context. It would also be easier if someone has a question about a video that they can refer to it specifically and Q&A's can stay together.


Thank you for sharing with us! 

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Posted · 3D Printed Patterns for Metal Casting

These are the videos from my YouTube channel. The second video is of the casting process for the Easter Island head as proof of concept, where 3D prints can be used as patterns for sand casting. The videos concentrate more on the metal casting process and less on the 3D printing aspect. The overall purpose being that the 3D prints are the patterns.


I currently do not have many photographs as I have only just started this process. More will be coming in the very near future and I will be shooting the third video today. A brass hook is on its way!


I look forward to any and all feedback. I would like to know what others have experienced if/when they have tried getting their prints cast at a traditional foundry.


Introduction video that explains my business and shows some of the processes of casting.


The second video shows some of the steps involved in casting the Easter Island head.  Unfortunately I had a problem with my DSLR camera and lost a few minutes of footage.



This image shows the top of the casting flask (cope) for a Nema 17 heat sink mould.  This was my first brass casting and it failed :c(  I will be casting this again soon, with lots of media :c)  You can see the two holes are the 'spure' and 'riser' for the metal to flow in and out of the mould.  The radial lines are vents to allow gasses to escape during casting.



Many thanks.



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