How to Use Gold for 3D Printing

By Shaun Bryant

Gold is rarely 3D printed directly. Most often, gold is printed using a wax 3D print with lost wax casting process. This process uses STL files with a wax-like resin. Support structures are printed along with the model (which is often quite delicate) to ensure that the model does not fall apart during the process. These support structures are normally automatically generated and manually removed once the printing process is complete.

The 3D wax cast (which is normally the original 3D design) is covered in a fine plaster, which, once solidified, is put in an oven until the wax has completely burned away (the lost wax casting). Gold is poured into the empty plaster cast, creating a 3D printed gold model. The model is then normally polished and finished manually.

Gold is often used to create 3D printed jewelry and is of high cost as a raw material, hence it is rarely, if ever, 3D printed for that reason.

The Tinkercad materials guide classes gold as an incredibly strong 3D printed material, using a highly expensive 3D printing process, due to the amount of material that is wasted to form the end result. The wax used for the lost wax casting normally prints at about 10 layers per 1mm and has a 0.5mm minimum wall thickness. Figure 20-6 shows you some 3D gold prints from the Tinkercad materials guide.

tinkercad-gold
The Tinkercad materials guide for gold.