Here’s an interesting experiment into turning your 3D printer into an injection molder — while the results are a bit primitive to date, the idea is fascinating. Hope he continues with the experimentation! From LeftAngle on Thingiverse:
This is one of those “I wonder if it can be done” exercises you can do in about an hour. This is only a proof-of-concept experiment that opens up the possibility of further development if anyone is interested.
The part I made is a true molded piece having no deposited layers.
The vent sprue I drilled in the front of the upper mold half didn’t work as PLA was too thick to move through (you can see the tiny nub in the photos). When the die was filled, the plastic simply began to pile up around the extruder head, outside the die,.
The other issue I had was the extruder head was hot enough to deform the upper ABS die half. This didn’t effect the part, but it made removing it from the mold difficult. The heat allowed the ABS mold material and the PLA part material to be mixed, making extraction impossible without wrecking the upper half of the mold.
Here’s how I made this:
Print the stl file in ABS. When the print is complete, break off the upper half (the one with the opening) and place it on top of the lower half, which should still be adhered to the build plate.
Disengage the driver motors and move the PLA print head (or the same print head you used to built the die on a single extruder machine) Load PLA material into the extruder and raise the plate until the extruder head couples with the hollow on the top of the die. Turn the load function on. The PLA will flow, filling the cavity. When its full, the PLA will begin to squeeze out from around the extruder nozzle. That’s when you should shut the extruder off.
Let the plastic cool completely before cracking the die open with a screw driver. If all went well, the part will be sitting inside the die, looking like a pearl.
Have fun, experiment and let us know if you make something really cool.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!