3D Hubs is bringing low cost metal parts to market. Using Polymaker’s PolyCast, a new material for FDM printed patterns and a global network of foundries, 3D Hubs will offer cast metal parts at a cost that is up to 5x less expensive than existing methods.
Rather than use a traditional machined die to product wax patterns for investment casting, 3D Hubs will use FDM castable plastic (PolyCast by Polymaker) to create the patterns. The benefits, besides low cost, is that FDM printing allows the production of large, complex patterns that traditional manufacturing techniques would have difficulty producing.
With material costs for the patterns being low, the metal parts become price competitive as part sizes increase. A useful rule of thumb is that if a design is approaching the size of a basketball, FDM printed patterns become the most cost effective method for producing custom metal parts with complex geometries.
The journey of the metal part begins with the pattern being 3D printed on an FDM machine by a 3D Hubs printing service. The 3D printed pattern is then polished using Polymaker’s Isopropanol micro droplet technology ensuring clean surface molds ready for casting. This process stops small air bubbles from getting trapped on the surface of the ceramic mold which will transfer to the metal parts. The pattern is then sent to a local foundry for investment casting. After casting, parts with critical tolerances are then machined before being sent out to the end user.
The process from order to finished part is managed end-to-end by the 3D Hubs team of in-house 3D printing experts, so customers only need to provide their 3D files and material choice. Materials available are; stainless steel, brass, copper, aluminum and bronze with more to follow.