CHALLENGE: Modular Mold Box

So as I’ve mentioned before, I have several friends who never cease to push my brain to its limits. This is a good thing, it helps get me outside of my cozy little comfort zone and try new things. This time my friend in Pensacola has requested a mold box. The original dimensions for the mold box were too big for the Aurora which to date is my printer with the largest bed so the first challenge was making it fit on the bed. The second challenge that came about was the height requirement. It wasn’t so much the height that was the problem, it’s what happens to objects as the printed filament in the middle starts to cool between the heated bed and the hot end… it cracks and separates. I was able to split the original model in half to make it fit but now I was faced with an 8 day print, ouch. This is where the height of the box would almost definitely crack in the middle making it useless for a mold box. So strike one, that one’s out the window. So I got to thinking at work about something and came home last night and started work on it. A modular mold box system. Now this is not by any means an original idea I’ve learned, however my approach is somewhat different; same result, just a different route to get there and something I created myself. so have a look: The system is made up of corners, pegs, and walls that can all be interlocked via the aforementioned pegs. In theory once everything is pegged together in the shape you want, you can put a strap or large rubber band around the mold box to secure it together even more and viola, mold box. At the moment I have the following pieces being printed for testing:
  • Pegs, a set of 3 is required for each end
  • Corners
  • 120mm Wall
  • 200mm Wall
  • 300mm Wall
I will of course expand on all of this and post more pics once I have things printed out and fitted together to demonstrate whether it works or not. Well it’s not pretty but at least it’s a proof of concept that I can work with. The corners are great and work as expected, the pegs are just a tad too long for the corner pieces and interfere with each other when pushed into the holes. The first 120mm wall shows some separation in the middle which was partially expected so I’ll print it laying down next time. There was also some warping on the bottom edge which can be seen at the top as I flipped it over so it still sits flat. So now that we have a proof of concept, it’s time to tweak things a little and move onto Mark II. Something I want to try with the new version is to make a channel on the end of each piece to help line things up and also to help reduce gapping. As it stands right now if there’s a gap at a joint, silicone could run right out unless some clay is used as a gasket, which might be totally fine and would probably be the smarter thing to do anyhow. The idea however is to make this system so you can just lock the pieces together, put a strap around it and go.