Frequently asked questions
What material do you use?
Mostly I use PLA. A plastic material that is based upon corn starch. It starts to become pliable at about 65C and has a melting point of about 180C. Models are generally printed at 210C. A flexible material ,it accepts paint readily with very little preparation. As PLA has an organic base it does eventually break down when disposed of in landfill, however this won’t occur to the model in use as it requires higher than normal temperatures in damp conditions, pretty much a compost heap.
Can you see the lines?
The process I’m using is additive layer printing. The model is “printed” in thin layers with the print bed being lowered to build the model up. With a layer height of .2mm , these layers are visible to the eye before painting. I find using an undercoat with micro filler remove most traces of the lines. For greater detail the layer height can be reduced to 60 microns at the cost of greatly increased printing time.
Can the designs be printed at shapeways?
Yes they can. Once we have a working prototype the same model will almost certainly work on a high end printing service.
Can the model be painted?
Yes. PLA accepts paint easily, I’ve been using Alclad undercoat with microfiller with excellent results.