Anyone know the life of a 3D print, when used as a Sculpture?

Just curious and I have only ever used Grey Resin in my Form 3. If primed and painted do you think a print will at anytime start to break down/crack or just fall apart? Sounds weird when I ask it that way but my thought is to make unique one of kind prints that I would sell as a unique sculpture…primed, painted and sealed. Just wondering how, I know alot of people do it for minatures and tabletop gaming. Does anyone have tips for doing larger works of art? If printed hollow do you fill with something like a 2part resin so you don’t have a hollow sculpture? Just wondering if there is something I would have to do to preserve the print better or treat it? Any ideas? Thanks! Jake

I don’t have an answer, but I imagine how long your prints last will depend highly on the specific type of resin, and its living conditions post-print. So for your grey prints, how that resin interacts with your paint job, and what the paint is permeable to, will all matter.

I have a few prints I don’t care too much about, that I’ve left unfinished, just sitting in my window-sill. So they get a mild amount of UV exposure every day. Most of the prints have been there more than a year, including grey and flexible prints. They’re all doing fine, so far.

I have noticed some of my prints change slightly over time. My ApplyLabWorks engineering black resin seems to slightly expand as the months go by. The only reason I notice this is I designed the print to fit in a metal chamber, and the tolerances are less than 0.1mm. The print fit in the chamber just fine, for a few months after the print. But when left out for a year, it no longer fit. I should have tried heating the print up to see if it would fit when hot, but I got too excited by the discovery and the print shattered in my hand when trying to force it.

I have only ever used the Grey resin for the Form3. Never seen it crack BUT like you have done there, i haven’t put it through different conditions. I figure that people are using it for miniatures which they are painting. I have primed and painted some of my own too and as pieces of art I have only kept them indoors on shelves and not outdoor in the elements. Which I am not trying to create anything for outdoors, just for inside as works of art. I figure they have lasted but I was just curious also if people that do things for Musuems maybe or for display purposes like this or some of the model makers that are doing similar…are they seeing any long term problems with their prints all? We used an Object at work extensively long before our Form and I still have some of those from 7-8 years ago and they sitting out, no paint and they have never seemed to have any problems. Different material I am sure. Thanks for the reply RYBU!

AND I just wanna make sure if I start selling these as one OFF pieces that they don’t disappoint of course. I would hate for that to happen on down the road to something someone bought from me. Wonder if Formlabs can say or give info on this? Their testing results

It depends whether these pieces are going to be kept indoors or out. If they are painted and kept indoors there should be no problems. If they are outdoors and exposed to UV light they will become brittle.

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The standard resins tend to get more brittle over a few months, post-curing and leaving them unsealed make it worse, paint makes it slightly better. They tend to be less brittle when warm, more brittle when cold. I’ve never seen a part crack on its own, but as they age even a short drop onto the table is enough to break a part.

I tend to use Durable a lot more than standard and parts don’t seem to get brittle even after a year or two. I found the resin yellows a little, though.

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Given a coat of epoxy paint, short of being physically damaged I’d bet a print would last forever (in any practical sense) outdoors. Even if the print breaks up over time, the epoxy will hold it together and with no place for the parts to go it’ll retain its shape. But you might lose some detail with this kind of coating.

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I don’t agree with Randy. I’ve seen prints change as they age over the last 5 years I’ve had a FL priinter. Some of the standard resins get more brittle as they age, and they also change shape! And external coating would protect against UV damage, but there are other issues at hand.

I am a sculptor and for my entire career I’ve been concerned with permanence (to the point where I had a full time conservator on the payroll). Resins are not forever, even with a coating, since there’s some internal aging and cross linking within the resin itself.

That being said, the engineering resins are superior, and I use Tough2000, and think Rigid is also good, due to the glass. Heat, light and humidty are your sculpture’s enemy, but that’s true of all objects. I feel comfortable with these two as finished work. I’ve painted the surface, flocked it, done all kinds of things, since I don’t much like the resin surfaces, except for Rigid. I’ve dyed that to good effect.

Museums are in a tough place, with many works from 50 years ago now falling apart. They can be wary.

I’ve started to electroplate my work, which adds a lot of strength, as well as givng the opportunity to patinate the work in the same way as I’ve done with lost wax silicone bronzes.

It’s good that you’re concerned. You do what you can, and then, time and chance take over.

p.s. FL hasn’t done any accelerated ageing tests as of last time I asked, last summer. I don’t thiink they plan to, either.

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Hi Rob, what I’m saying is that coated with Epoxy, the Epoxy essentially becomes the structure. The resin inside could completely disintegrate leaving nothing but the Epoxy shell and the object would retain its shape. A simple coat of paint isn’t what I meant.

Epoxy is very durable. The wheels on my car are Epoxy coated and the only places the material has been lost are places where I scraped it off with a rub against a granite curb.

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Hi, Randy!

Consider how thick do you need then need to apply it.

I would think anything structural would obliterate fine details.

For example, I have sculpture with feathers (stl file created in zbrush). I can plate to retain detail, but if I prime with anything other than Tamiya, Krylon for example, I will lose details. And even Tamiya makes a noticeable difference.

In fact, I’ll often opt to use an agressive degreaser, rather than prime, in order to preserve the surface quality.

In short, I think epoxy isn’t workable. It’d be like a nice coating of snot. :rofl:smile:

NB: Tamiya is a specialy paint made for modelers, and delivers a very thin coating.

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Yes, I do agree. You’d have to sacrifice details for robustness.

Also I use Tamiya paints all the time. Work best still, if you prime first though.

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Thanks so much Rob and Randy. It really seems like you both of put thought into this. And Rob, yeah I was wondering if FL had done any long term testing of the resins. For the most part, I am using my printer for smaller sculpts that I AM molding and casting multiples of. And like you mentioned, about museums using and then their parts falling apart at a certain point. I guess that is what I was concerned about if I were to do say, one sculpt personalized for someone…primed and painted because there was no need to mold and cast for just one. The life of that keepsake…it wouldn’t be professional grade and might not hold up down the road if someone where to pass it on. That to me is shoddy craftsmanship and I don’t want that to happen with say, the Grey Resin I use all the time. And yes, coating with a thin layer of resin to me, I am not wanting to lose that detail but yeah, that would be a good test to solve for this. I will have to look up Tamiya for my castings too, hadn’t heard of that before. Thanks for the time and replies! Appreciated…great shared knowledge!

As much as I’m concerned about permanence, I think you have to take two things into consideration.

  1. How much did you charge? A $100 object isn’t in the same league as a $1,000 object, and one’s expectations for permanence can properly scale.

  2. As Pogo said; “Don’ take life so seriouos son, it ain’t nohow permanent”. The greatest danger to most work is the kids, and a dumpster, after you die.

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What about something like the Createx UVLS Clear
They have matte semi and gloss?
UVLS Clears by Createx Colors | US

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That attacks the UV problem, which is certainly helpful, but that doesn’t address what’s going on within the resin itself.

Heat and time, both together and separately will affect the print, and not in a good way. It’s just how the world works. Each resin will behave differently, and the post processing you apply will have long lasting consequences, which are impossible to predict, given all the variables.

Overcure = brittle, for example.

Maybe not in all resins, but fer shur in the ones I’ve worked with, especially the standard resins, which I no longer use, except for draft, which is disposable.

Even accelerated aging as a test of permanence is unrealiable, because it’s not the same as waiting 50 years.

You want really stable; print in metal! :sob:

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Because: Entropy.


Even accelerated aging as a test of permanence is unrealiable, because it’s not the same as waiting 50 years.

It turns out that heat and time are two sides of the same coin. So done properly, accelerated aging tests can be highly representative of the real thing. The breakdown of a print over time, like just about everything else that breaks down over time, is a chemical reaction and almost all chemical reactions are governed by the Arrhenius equation, which dictates how heat accelerates those reactions. An “Acceleration Factor” needs to be determined for the specific material in question, but with that information time vs. temperature accelerations are easily calculated and the resulting predictions can be very accurate.

In the products I make (in my real life job), we have to demonstrate the long-term reliability of every new design (and on an ongoing sample basis once in production). With the benefit of Arrhenius, we can accurately predict the reliability of our products over very long spans of time, using only a small sample at elevated temperatures in a temperature controlled test chamber for 1000 hours of run time. No failures with 500 units for 1000 hours at room temp gives a point estimate of 500K hours real-world MTBF, but with thermal acceleration that same data can predict MTBFs well in excess of 5M hours.

The problem is, the statistics don’t do well with very small population sizes like “one”.

You can prototype your artwork with a Resin printer and then send the model file to a 3rd party like Shapeways and get it printed in metal (including precious metals like Gold and Platinum) or ceramic or a host of other materials that’d be more robust than a SLA print.

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Is that why spinning hard drives have a MTBF of a bazillion hours, and fail after two years?’ :sunglasses:

My experience comes from testing art objects, and it just doesn’t hold true; Exposing an albumen print to high heat for just a few minutes can set off a maillard reaction, which years later will result in a yellowed print, even if it’s in better storage after. Especially if that exposure is under high humidity; another factor which isn’t usually well incorporated into accelarated ageing. Light also has an affect, and the wavelength is important.

Time, heat, humidity, and light and duration and degree of each. Too many variables!

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That’s exactly what thermal acceleration does to something. You make something happen quickly that would otherwise take a much longer time, accelerating the “time to failure” with heat.

The Maillard Reaction is a plain old chemical reaction. Arrhenius rules when it comes to chemical reactions. Heat = time. Light and humidity are other parameters that’d have to be factored in, but they’re accelerating a plain old chemical reaction, too, so Arrhenius will likely account for them as well.

The thing about reliability is that it’s statistical. You can’t say anything about a single instance of the thing (like a HDD), you can only talk in terms of populations. A HDD will have a MTBF of maybe 2M or 2.5M hours. But that doesn’t mean that a single drive will run for 2.5M hours. It’s easier to understand if you convert MTBF to AFR (Annualized Failure Rate, and there’s an equation for this). A 2.5M hour MTBF is equivalent to about 0.35% AFR. That means that if you had 1000 of these 2.5M hour HDDs, you should expect to see 3.5 failures on average per year.

Of course, HDD manufacturers do their reliability testing with “kid gloves”, not with the handling the drives will receive being installed in a laptop or PC, or the handling the drives will experience being shipped inside those devices or all the banging around they’ll experience when the end user takes them out of the shipping box. Or other environmental factors that weren’t present in the testing the manufacturer did. So HDD failure rate predictions are generally “best case” that turn out to be hard to duplicate in the real world.

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Hard to duplicate, as in “never”? Otherwise known as “cooking the books”.

My point with accelerated ageing is that there are too many variables in my milieu for it to mean anything. You can potentiate a reaction, and have it lie quiescent for years, until the right conditions appear. But if they don’t, the inherent vice won’t show up.

Accelerated ageing doesn’t work if there’s a threshold for a state change. Think cooking an egg; a much different result than leaving it in on the kitchen counter for a couple of years.

One example is “foxing” in old paper. It’s a reddish brown spotting. It could be mold, or it could be iron. Or both. Heat won’t set it off in accelerated ageing. For mold, you need spores, for one thing. And you can reverse some foxing with light bleaching; heavy duty exposure to UV, often in a liquid medium if possible. Depends on the root cause. And you could have a generalized yellowing, which could be maillard, or iron, or mold, or a mix. It could be totally reversible, or not, or some.

Real world is just too complicated to be analogous.

Your correct in that you can get some general idea. For example, if you heat and UV clear resin, you’ll get yellowing pretty quickly. Grey will get brittle, etc.

Problem with Shapeways is that metal prints only print in pretty small sizes, and are very pricey!

Where’s my free lunch, dammit!

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Someone got there first and ate it. :slight_smile:

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