Extreme High Definition Parts on Your 3D Printer

by LeftAngle, published

Extreme High Definition Parts on Your 3D Printer by LeftAngle May 4, 2013
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This tiny cannon was injection molded on my MakerBot 3D Printer...

Yes... You read that right.

And you can do it too... With no changes to your machine... In about an hour start to finish. No need to make a mold either. I'll supply that too to get you started. Here's a video showing how it's done:



This might be a game changer for owners of home 3D printers. Injection molding quality is the ultimate goal for layered deposition technology, but even today, with the most expensive printers, resolution is still no better than .001"... Easily seen by the human eye.

This is a continuation of my recent discovery oF how to use your 3D printer as an injection molder. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:82666

The first part I made was a small ball. It didn't really show the capabilities of the process I dubbed "Injection Printing".

After publishing my thing, I went to the barn, got a handfull of old silicone dies, went through them and picked a couple I thought would make good tests of the process's limits. I also made a new, .175" diameter mold. I think the results might just be the discovery of the week:

I've published my findngs on "Instructables", the OTHER great innovation site. I've also entered this idea into the "Epilog Challenge V" contest there, so please visit it, read all about it, learn the details... And then try it...

Oh ya... And while you're there, please sign up and vote for this idea too :)


Oh... And in THE THING YOU NEED TO ADD BEFORE YOU CAN BE PUBLISHED DEPARTMENT; if you have a bench drill press where the depth limiter has gone knackered, you can download the replacement here.

Enjoy and Thank you very much.

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Would you obtain the same result using a 3d printing pen? Has anyone done it?

Just a thought, how about using a coffee cup warmer to heat the mold? Could be placed right on the printbed, and then the mold could be kept warm throughout the process. Not sure if that's better than the printer's own heated bed.

While slightly off topic, have you seen this method for injection molding?


It does require some new equipment, but not that much I would say.
And has the potential benefit that it should be possible til recycle old bits of scrap PLA.

Regarding the print lines one might use acetone vapor on ABS or maybe simply smear some grease onto the part (filling the holes/indents) prior to making the silicone mold

Thank you for that. It looks very simple and could be a great addition to any shop. The primary advantage of using the 3D printer's extruder is, the pressures are small so milling a metal die isn't necessary. My silicone molds were easily up to the task as long as I was able to keep the pressure of the nozzle centered. My problem is, when casting, I made several cavities in one mold, so the pour would be more efficient. That worked against me here, as the cavity I wanted was on the end and the 2 part mold acted like a cheese sandwich would if you pushed down on it off-center. How'd you like that analogy? :)

I it seems to be, I have to build one my self one day...

And not the least the secondary advantage, when using the printer you don't need yet another tool :)

Perhaps a plastic exoskeleton/box around the silicone mold would allow for a higher pressure injection.

I don't like the analogy, it makes me hungry ;)
(Other than that is fine :)

Awesome, Think you are on to something.

Me too. Thanks

Great job!
I figured this was a good thing to try, but no time to play with it. Have you come up with any strategies to get an accurate precision mold without the leftover small layer lines in the mold itself?
If it could entirely be printed within the same block, by making this into a customizer entry, you can get a lot of attention and support. :)

Thanks kazektulu:

I'm not quite sure about what you're saying. If you're talking about the flashing issue, then I'll just have to say I'm working on it. Getting the printer to press down on the mold more evenly or using more rigid molds are the only things I can think of that might help at the moment, but someone else, like yourself may have better solutions.

What is a "customizer entry"? I certainly could use all the attention I can get.

I meant by printed molds to use for the injection. Your circular example shows the printed mold (with the layer-lines that you are trying to overcome) that show in the piece anyways, since they are in the mold. It looks like your other pieces didnt have that because you didnt use a mold that was printed, so I was asking if you had some more ideas to get rid of the lines without damaging precision accuracy for the mold.
I do hear that molded plastics are generally something near double actual bond strength than the regular FDM process, so its exciting to see this option for some parts.
a 'customizable' thing in thingiverse, like the lithopanes and the 8 bit music box and iphone cases - something that you can edit through thingiverse's very own interface. I havent made one yet so I cant say how to do it- but if you can implement a customizer image for a printable mold base, you may even get featured. :)

Sorry kazektulu... I was tired. I've never really tried to find the "perfect" way to smooth out a printed part, thought others seem to have done quite well (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:50212)http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Even so, I think there would have to be a loss of detail, no matter how it's done.

The printed die I have was only meant to serve as a tool so people could try the process without having to go through the trouble of making a mold... However... Try this (no guarantee, but it might just work)... print a small 5 sided box and fill it with soft sculpting clay. Take an object and push it into the clay, like I did with my watch.

Place a washer or make an aluminum plate to cover the box and try injecting that. It would certainly be easier than using silicon and it would also be much faster.

I'm not familiar with customizable things either and I don't know if contest entries are "featured"... Don't forget to vote btw. I personally have enough pro points to last me the rest of the decade, so being featured isn't important to me, but thanks for thinking of me.

btw... While trimming the gun tube, I was afraid of breaking the trunions off, but quickly realized they weren't going anywhere. Really strong... So there might be something to your strength comment. I don't see this technique being useful for large items, but it's normally the small ones that have the most problem with strength.

Thanks again for clearing things up... And i apologize for being so dense.

cuddling Owls
by mooses

I tried the modeling clay (without the box) and it didn't work. Modeling clay can't be heated so the plastic cools before it can be pushed far into the mold. Sorry. I posted pictures of the result on Instuructables.

no need to be sorry. You've done a great job! I was just curious. :)