When it comes to 3D printing, no one is innovating and creating new materials like Kai Parthy. Kai’s “Lay” series of filaments have been pushing the market over the past few years with Laywood and Laybrick being the most popular to consumers and copycats. This week, Kai has released a new addition to his unique collection of materials with the introduction of Moldlay.
Moldlay is designed specifically for the use of creating positives for investment casting molds. Moldlay is a wax-like material that can be printed on a normal desktop 3D printer, at temperatures of 170-180ºC. Once printed, a plaster or cement mold can be created around the print. When dry, the filament can be melted away to reveal a clean, hollow chamber ready for casting metals into.
3D Printing experimenters have been using a similar technique by burning out PLA from plaster molds to produce a similar effect. There are also specific SLA resins designed to be used similarly in investment casting. Moldlay has the advantage of not requiring as high of a temperature to remove the molten material as PLA or resins do, and the mold can be evacuated in just a normal oven.
Kai’s video introducing Moldlay definitely shows potential for the new material, despite some issues with the final casts. Below, you can see an outline of his process and an image of one of his test pieces as it is being de-moulded.
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The problems with casting from resin patterns go well beyond burnout temperature. Curing prints, ash from incomplete burnout, thermal expansion cracking the investment, and a more limited choice of viable investment all come to mind.