Wax printing multiple copies of one simple Model... A pipe dream?

Hello everyone. I am a jewelry hobbyist and decided that I would make an anchor chain necklace by casting wax models of 12mmx7mm anchor chain segments. What I thought would be a very easy process because I can make the entire wax tree of 24 anchor chain models using Sketchup Pro… has become a ridiculous brick wall.

I don’t own a wax printer so I thought I could easily outsource it.

The ridiculous problem of 3d printing wax from what I have discovered is this…

No one I have ever found whether it would be Shapeways or individuals will print an entire wax tree of these simple anchor chain pieces. (The bounding box is only 65mm high and even less wide). So the other issue is that if I were to try to order 24 copies of just the 12mmX7mm anchor chain links, I would have to pay a 10 to 35 dollar surcharge for each individual copy just for it being made of wax, then the cost by volume. So in other words… 3d printing in wax is completely and utterly impossible for anything that you need more than one copy of. I find this extremely surprising for many reasons. For one… If Shapeways or individuals are concerned the sprues will break during shipment… that is no problem because wax can be welded back together. Secondly… wax printing has been around for a while now so I don’t see why the material is so difficult to handle or print. Castable wax has a pretty high melting temp.

Why does printing something in wax involve an expensive surcharge of 10 to 35 dollars for each model no matter how small when no other plastic or similar material has that surcharge?

Does anyone please have any ideas on how to efficiently order 24 copies of a small wax model?

Thanks for any advice.

Rick: SWAG;To print he whole tree would be problem because of print nozzle access; the surcharge is probably as a result of all the post print processing they think is required to possibly remove infill etc.
Maybe it is time to use different process / material ??
What does the slicer show?
It looks like from the PIC some of the holes may be crossing edge vertex boundaries.
What does mesh mixer show for the model?

Hello there.

My model gets 100% green light for printing… even in wax from all software so I don’t think there are any holes crossing edge vertex’s, unless I don’t understand.

What is the castable resins that some say can burn out? I have a feeling they don’t completely burn out like wax and could leave residue.

Thanks for the reply,


Surely this would be far less complex to print if it was a flat plane?..think leaf rather than tree. You would pretty much eliminate the need for any support material, and the print height would be only as thick as the chain link thickness (thereby reducing likelihood of failure from the tree detaching from the build platform) In theory, your design is printable, in reality, very complex to do so.

Hello there.

Thank you for the idea but could you please elaborate on what you mean by creating it all on a flat plane? The bounding box for printing in wax normally has to be less than 70mm for greatest length. So did you mean creating one long chain of the anchor link models or did you mean making each set of the 4 links in a horizontal 90 degree angle instead of the 45 degree angle?

@justcheckinm8, I think what you are missing is that Rick is going to use the 3D printed wax models to make molds for investment casting. The wax gets burned out to be replaced with silver or gold. Typically the molten metal is forced into the mold by spinning the mold in a centrifuge. It wouldn’t work to have all of his links laid out flat in a grid.

Thanks guys. I think I found a solution so case is closed. Thanks for discussion.

For anyone else with this problem, I found out that FormLabs created a castable resin. It is less expensive to 3d print castable resin from FormLabs and yet it has the same level of detail as any wax that is 3d printed. But you can’t use Shapeways and probably any other major online service for 3d printing. So the solution is to use 3dHubs or other networks of printers. I just uploaded my entire casting tree and for only 23 dollars I may be able to print the entire tree in castable resin. So… even if I am told the tree may not hold up to printing in that, it looks like individually printing the links in castable resin would be affordable.

Yes Dave, but I could easily cut up the pieces and melt it onto a wax tree if printing it flat would work.

But the bounding box would be over 70mm long so you could not print 24 of them. I found a solution so thank you sir!

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Hmmm… if it’s easy to weld it and join the wax, why not half the ‘tree’ from top to bottom and lay them flat in a head-to-toe arrangement (I know the anchoring links would project past the ‘ground’ plane, but you could also build in little nubbins to lift it that could be easily cut away… or used to join the two bits.)

… actually, if it’s that easy, why not just design a single ring of links with a key top and bottom and then you could stack them however high you wanted in wax before casting.

I got that it would be for making the mold, didn’t know about the centrifuge method. Thanks Dave.

I thought more like a 180deg layout. Links left and right of a central stem…12 up each side. Would that still work in the centrifuge in the final mold? (As Dave kindly pointed out in his response)

Please forgive my ignorance but wouldn’t turning the links 90º provide a denser model and better result?

… or would the ‘snap point’ then be more visible on the finished article?
(I know nothing of these things - I’m just curious)

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Nice model!!!

Thank you for your idea and time showing this. I believe the issue is the weight and the “snap point” as you say. No, it does not matter for visibility where you put a sprue, at least if it’s on the outside of an edge as we file and sand it away.

But I think I found a solution!!! I found a very “can do” attitude 3d printer who owns a Formlabs2 printer. He routinely prints their Castable Resin and he said my tree should print fine. But to be fair to Shapeways… Castable Resin from formlabs is much stronger and denser than wax. Especially when you UV cure the resin which is recommended before casting.

I have a tree printing right now!!!

I will share the information and technical info. in the forum soon.

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Mission accomplished.

The conclusion is that wax is too weak to print large trees of. Formlabs invented a castable resin that you can harden and strengthen after you cast it by using UV lamps. So I found a 3d printing guy who casted these for 36 bucks!

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