How to Create 3D Printed PVA Molds Ready for Metal Fluid Casting

With 3D printed PVA molds you can easily cast highly detailed objects from Metal Fluid.

Not every object can be cast in a traditional two-part folding mold, mostly because some details and more complex shapes couldn’t be retrieved from it. Disposable 3D printed PVA molds are a good alternative in such situations, enabling you to cold-cast highly detailed objects from Metal Fluid.

3D printed PVA molds
Metal figures cold-cast from 3D printed PVA molds
Metal figure cold-cast from a 3D printed PVA mold

Utilizing 3D printed PVA molds

Designer Eliza Wrobel wanted to cast a set of Egyptian-themed figures (originally designed by Zorum). She decided to make disposable 3D printed PVA molds that would enable her to recreate the high level of detail from the original 3D model. First, she took the models and designed simple mold forms with inlets around them.

3D printed PVA molds
PVA mold model in Voxelizer software

In Voxelizer software, Eliza was able to prepare her molds for printing by using a PVA preset and adjusting it for 1.75 mm Plastic Extruder mounted on ZMorph 2.0 SX multitoool 3D printer. It took several hours to 3D print the molds. They were ready to use straight out of the machine – no post-processing was needed at this stage.

3D printed PVA molds
PVA mold printing using ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer

3D printed PVA molds are perfect for Metal Fluid casting because they don’t deform once the material starts to give back heat. Metal Fluid is a mix of metal grit in a resin binder that looks, feels, and weighs almost exactly the same as brass, bronze, and other metals. Once the material was poured into the molds, it needed a few hours to stiff.

3D printed PVA molds
Metal Fluid cold-casting using 3D printed PVA molds

After putting them in water for 24 hours, 3D printed PVA molds dissolved completely. Eliza was then able to clean her model from residue material and star post-processing of the metal objects.

3D printed PVA molds
Metal figure after dissolving the PVA mold

Casted figures required sanding to eliminate 3D printing layers and a resin residue that settles over the metal. After that, it’s good to clean the model of any dust and use polishing paste to bring out the patination effect on the metal. This way the figures got a stylish, antique look.

3D printed PVA molds
Sanding and post-production of a metal figure

Many possible applications

3D printed PVA molds can be used to cast highly detailed objects from Metal Fluid that couldn’t be made with any other DIY or low-cost casting method. This way freelance designers, artists, and small companies owning a multitool 3D printer can create their own unique metal figures, statuettes for prizes, paper buttons, bookends, stylish decorations, and even silver jewelry.

3D printed PVA molds
Metal figures cold-cast from 3D printed PVA molds

This method could also be successfully applied to create antique replicas and high-quality movie props at a fraction of previous costs. It’s much easier and less time-consuming than traditional mold making and metal casting too.

Marcin Traczyk

Content Marketing Manager at ZMorph. 3D printing enthusiast and avid gamer

5 thoughts on “How to Create 3D Printed PVA Molds Ready for Metal Fluid Casting”

  1. Awesome, i am very interested in Zmorph. Where does one buy such tins of fluid metal and what kind of metals can you do this way ? Is a cold cast piece strong or brittle ? Cheers, Kurt

    1. The cold cast is very strong – very similar to real metal. The material itself is called Metal Fluid, it’s from from Prochima company and we found it in an online hardware store.

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