3D Printing Help and General Questions (newbie)

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New Member
Hello fellow RPF members, I'm currently working on my next con costume, and decided to go the 3D printing way for some of the parts of the costume. I'm new to all of this, and was hoping if some experienced members could answer some questions and possibly give me tips and tricks !
While researching on the subject and checking some builds using 3D printing, I noticed once they have the piece printed, they makes molds out of it. My guess is the printed model isn't the most durable or reliable material for costume making, but maybe I'm wrong, and this is simply for making multiple replicas for sale ?
Again, my guess is for a more solid model, and if that's the case, is molding pieces a complicated process? I've seen many builds where people used Lego (which I have plenty of) to make molds, while it seems simple, maybe it isn't. When I needed to learn how to resin pepakura models, I checked out days worth of video tutorials and was good once I started. So my question is, how hard would it be for me to learn this ?
I don't own a 3D printer or know anyone who does, so I was hoping if any of you know reliable places or people where I can send the files for printing ? (Preferably a Canadian location)

Anyone that can answer even one of these questions, or give me any sort of tips, it would be very appreciated.

If it helps, I'm planning to do a New 52 Batsuit, Arkham Knight version, and I want to print part of the cowl, belt buckle and part of the bracer.

Questions are welcomed !

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Sr Member
So as far as durability goes, SLA prints (those are the resin hardened by a laser type) tend to be very strong, fdm (the glue gun, melted plastic type) not so much. I always like to make a mold of the printed part, unless it's some crazy complex shape that I'm only going to need one of. Smooth-on has a lot of online tutorials, like this one. https://youtu.be/htp8WhRpyF0
This is pretty much the method I use, except I use foam core instead of acrylic. Also if the part is not porous, you don't need to seal it or release it for silicone. Now, this is a tutorial for a simple box mold, if you need to make a two part mold, or a more complex matrix mold, then it gets a bit more complicated. If you are looking to have something printed, I know shapeways does nice work, plus there are a few guys on this forum who do 3D printing.
Good luck on the suit.


New Member
Really appreciated man, I'll check it out when I have the time

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Active Member
Having built my own 3d printer, and investigated building an SLA printer, I have come to the following conclusions.

SLA, this method can produce very accurate and detailed models, however the resin is UV sensitive. The problem with this is that the resin will become brittle over time unless some method is used to stabilise it such as painting or chemically treating it.

FDM. Extruding plastic in a filament that bonds to itself. This generally produces parts that are strong in the x, y direction but weaker in the z dirrection. There are now many different plastics with unique properties. PLA and ABS are the most commonly used. PLA is biodegradable, has a low glass point and is quite brittle. ABS has a higher glass transition temperature, and is petroleum based, therefore not biodegradable. ABS however can be fused and smoothed with Acetone making very strong parts. PET-G this has a glass transition between ABS and PLA, it is somewhat flexible, but can produce some really strong parts. It suffers from less shrinkage than either ABS or PLA and can be considered food-safe.
Nylon, polycarbonate and various flexible plastics are also available. Each has specific properties. I have also seen at least once, PTFE as a"printable" filament, however getting it to stick to anything including the bed might be problematic.

Moulding generally is done if you want to produce more than one example of a part, as 3D printing can be quite time consuming compared with making a mould. Also 3D printing is far better for producing a prototype part to check that features and fitting are correct before going on to make the finished part.

I hope this helps.


Active Member
another thing is that a lot of the time a 3D printer is too small to create whatever you're after, so combining smaller prints into one and then creating a mold from that will allow you to make it all one piece in a few different kinds of pourable materials depending on what you're after.

If you're looking for a canadian supplier of 3D printers, try sculpture supply canada, who also sell everything smooth-on you could wish for, and you can get your filament at filaments.ca. Lulzbot also has a toronto distributor for their TAZ 5 printers.

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