3D modelling and beyond

i’m very happy with my sls print (selective laser sintering = powder printing). slight banding on the upper and lower surfaces and some faceting on the inside faces, but these are both more obvious on the lower half and will hopefully be diminished in the casting process (or less obvious in clear resin). the colour of the nylon is stated as white but against a brilliant white backdrop you can see the warm tone, which should work well with the natural colour of the silk inclusions. the printed piece is reassuringly weighty and has a texture my daughter described as “like extra strong mints” 😀

i’m delighted with the crispness of the detail in the text and moth image. this is the clearest difference of using a powder bed printer – which requires no additional supportive structure – compared to the makerbot prints which can never really be cleaned of the tangle of supports.

the pieces fit together perfectly and the dividing line around the edge is barely visible. my only reservation would be how easily the surfaces collect random fragments of fluff and dirt.

i was worried that the delay i experienced in purchasing the software and a pesky bank holiday weekend would mean i wouldn’t be able to progress the project beyond this stage. but 3dprint-uk surpassed their lead time estimates and martin managed to squeeze me into the workshop before the move and i made the first half of my two-part silicone mould today. hopefully the second half will be dry enough to bring home before the weekend, and the slow drying (but non-smelly!) resin i have will cure in time for the assessment.

i have very little time to experiment with the material or the mould and it may turn out i need to do further work over the holidays or when we restart in the autumn, but i’m determined to get this piece finished. even if the casting goes to plan i’m expecting some shrinkage in the resin, which will entail scaling and reprinting of the upper half of the medal to ensure the perfect fit i’m after.

and if i don’t get a usable result from the casting i’ll be left to present the bottom half which i expect to be markedly grubby from the mould-making process – let’s hope it stands up to a vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush…

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