Alright, so first things first:
I've seen the discussion regarding castings. So initially, I was not looking to do castings for two reasons: one, I can leave my printer running while I'm at work to fab parts and the process for cleaning up said parts is not terribly time intensive (see the spreadsheet above), although it does lead to higher model costs. Two, I've had bad experiences with molds in the past - I've worked with Smooth-On's oomoo 30 and found that the molds were relatively easy to tear, meaning that after less than 5 uses the molds become damaged.
Their resins are pretty nice though, and the concentrated dies that Smooth-On makes have nice colors as well (such as this one: https://www.amazon.com/SO-Strong-Color-Tint-9-Pack-Sampler/dp/B005ZSGQBO/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=smooth-on+so-strong&qid=1558799802&s=gateway&sr=8-2
I've been talking with some guys at my work, one of whom does this on a regular basis: he recommended to me a different molding solution, Brick in the Yard's 73-20. He brought in a mold he's got of a Tiger tank Turret that he's used over 30 times with no issues, provided a thin layer of releasing agent is sprayed into the mold before the resin is poured in.
To answer a few other questions:
Teeny bit of 800 grit on top maybe?
Yes and no: the PLA/carbon fiber mix I print with produces a very nice matte black finish (which doesn't come through very well in the photos). Sanding this finish turns it into a rough, light-grey sheen that really doesn't look great - so I typically only use sanding on parts of the model with excess material buildup that needs to be removed. That being said, if the purpose of the print is for use as a master in a silicon mold, then the smoothness of the print is more important than the finish (so in this case, sanding would be done).
An Erebus and a Solaris would be a dream combo for me!
UEF ships would be...challenging. The nice thing about the TEI warships is that they are relatively monolithic units that are easily segmented into printable sections (think pyramid - the printer can't print on thin air, so the part needs to print from bottom to top with minimal overhangs). The UEF ships like the Solaris have lots of hanging armor panels and other unsupported geometry. It wouldn't be impossible
, but I wouldn't attempt it until I can reasonably produce easier ships first (I'd need to separate the model into a lot of smaller parts for printing).
And a what about user-made ships like the Raguel?
Related to the above - I'll be focusing on just BP warships for now until I have a good process down. I am certainly not against printing other user-made ships (I'd love to make me some WoD and Exile ships too!) but I need to stay focused on just these BP ones for now.
And some news:I have officially gotten permission from Aesaar to make these TEI BP models!
The Erebus, as you all can tell, is first on the docket but expect to see progress on a Titan, Diomedes, and Chimera soon.
So, moving forward, here is the plan:
- Make master mold of a part using a cleaned-up 3D printed model
- Resin cast using mold
- paint/airbrush as needed
- list the models on Ebay for purchase.
And I've already started reworking the Erebus model to improve upon the print quality to produce a second, casting-friendly version:
So yeah, that's the end of this rather long update. More to come!