One major way to expand your 3D printing capacity is learning how to 3D print molds. We’re not talking about taking up microbiology, but creating vessels to fill with your ideas. They’re great for mass manufacturing, standardizing your designs, and expanding your repertoire of what you can make for yourself. Here, we’ll give you the rundown on what 3D printed molds are, how to create and use them, and why they’re a good idea.
First, we need to distinguish between two types of object creation to illustrate how printing 3D molds is different than your standard 3D printing projects. The main difference is in how you get to the final object.
Standard 3D printing is its own means to an end – once your printer stops and your material cools, you’ve got your end product. The standard 3D printing process is additive, which means you’re building your shape as you print. Your design falls into place as the material is extruding, which is how it’s finalized as soon as you’re done.
3D printing molds takes an extra step. First, you print a container that is the inversion of your final design; then you fill that container with your final manufacturing material, let that dry, then open the mold to reveal your final object. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty below, but for now, just know these general steps are called additive manufacturing and do require a little more work than standard 3D printing projects. But we promise it’s totally worth it.