Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

Posted by Editor On August - 7 - 2017

Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

Superior strength and chemical property durability comes to desktop 3D printing

By Fred Kaplan

While the history of mold making goes back to the Bronze Age, injection molding was patented in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt, four years after he patented the first celluloid plastic that was used as an ivory substitute in billiard balls. The injection molding market is expected to reach $162 billion dollars by 2020.

Among the disadvantage of additive manufacturing has been the high cost of proprietary materials. While the return on investment for open-source 3D-printing materials is better, it can’t compete with the return on investment of printing molds and casting urethanes or the wide variety of other materials.

3D printing could be a great way to create high quality molds faster, but 3D-printing high-quality molds require high-end 3D printers with specialized materials which made it impossible to get a reasonably return on investment until now.

Avante Technologies has introduced FilaOne gray injection molding filament for desktop printers. FilaOne is a proprietary, composite material formulated for high mechanical performance, resilience, water and chemical resistance, and is safe for easy printing on FDM 3D printers.

A true “engineering grade” material, FilaOne offers a unique combination of mechanical and chemical processing attributes. It provides a higher strength-to-weight ratio than other 3D printer materials attributed with an engineering grade reputation. FilaOne Gray is easier-to-print than polycarbonate, nylon, and ABS.

FilaOne key attributes include:
• Ultralight weight: 0.86 grams per cubic centimeter when printed with 100% solid infill.
• Flexural strength 48% higher than ABS.
• Resilient: FilaOne bends and recovers with minimal crazing.
• Hydrophobic: repels water, resists salt-water, and is not affected by humidity.
• Chemically resistant to acids, bases, solvents and selected gases.
For more on the specifics of its properties, see the Avante Technologies website for additional information.

Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

FilaOne contains proprietary carbon nanotubes that reinforce the material like microscopic support rods to add strength and resilience to injection molds. To that extent, FilaOne has been tested on AirWolf, Roboze, and German RepRap 3D printers with notable results.

FilaOne prints at 225-230 degrees celsius but the print bed must be heated to 95C. It also requires high-torque stepper motors for feeding filament. For complete set of print settings see this report.


Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who is currently working with UnionTech. He has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

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