If you were to look at some of the items being fabricated with FFF/FDM 3D printers today, back in 2011 or 2012, you’d be shocked. Not only have these technologies been refined to produce extremely accurate, high quality prints, but the range of materials being offered continues to expand.
One of the more exciting companies within the filament space is colorFabb. They have released several new filaments this year alone, many of which are composites consisting of a thermoplastic base in additional to other non-plastic materials. Probably one of their most popular filaments is bronzeFill, a PLA-based material which has finely ground bronze powder mixed in. When used to print, not only does the fabricated object appear to be made from bronze (and can actually be polished), but it also feels like metal. This filament is so popular that it is currently out of stock on the colorFabb website.
Since the release of bronzeFill, colorFabb has also unveiled a similar filament called copperFill. A bit lighter in color than its predecessor, copperFill can also be polished and has the same basic properties as bronzeFill. Over the last several months we have seen a number of very creative uses for these filaments, but none are as amazing, in our opinion, as a piece of work created by a man named Aldo Hoeben.
Hoeben, who is an artist, panorama photographer, and software developer, uses his website, fieldOfView.com, to show off some of his work. Based in the Netherlands, Hoeben has close ties with colorFabb which is based there as well. In fact he tells us that he was one of the first to ever receive their bronzeFill product, which he just loves.
“Being able to get a metallic look was, and is to this day, a great reason to buy this filament, but wait until you feel a print with this material,” Hoeben explained to 3DPrint.com. “It is such a difference if an object has some weight to it! Straight out of the printer, the material looks like a dark terracotta, and it feels nothing like plastic (even though 80% of it is still the same PLA).”
Because of the keen liking he took to this filament, when colorFabb announced copperFill back in September, he was sure to be one of the first to pre-order this new filament. When the new copperFill arrive in the mail, Hoeben was excited to test it out, and what better a way to do so than by printing a large multi-metal bust, right? Hoeben set out to create a print which will blow you away. Part bronze, part copper, the face was printed with both filaments, and pieced together like a puzzle.
“The ‘Split Personality’ print was the second thing I printed with copperFill (but I was already on my second roll of bronzeFill). I came up with the design to celebrate the arrival of my spool of copperFill,” explained Hoeben. “Since starting with modeling for 3d prints I have gotten more interested in the ‘low poly’ aesthetics, and I had already printed a succession of low-poly heads before.”
Once the pieces were printed, it was time to polish them to a sheen. Hoeben enjoys this part best, as it’s not only tranformative, but he sees it as a form of art, as he describes below:
“I do some cleaning with an exacto-knife, but after that it is scrubbing all they way. I don’t bother with different grit sanding-paper, because it is hard to reach into nooks and crannies. Instead I use a coarse but soft steel wool potscrubber. Don’t use the very fine stuff because it will just disintegrate. Scrubbing with the steelwool actually doesn’t take all that much effort. You quickly get a metallic sheen to the object, losing the slightly powdery terracotta-like texture. Part of the metallic look at this point is actually a silvery deposit of steel from the steel wool onto the print.”
Once the actual physical polishing is done, now it’s time turn to the Brasso polish. Using a soft cloth, he simply rubs the Brasso onto the print, then with the clean side of the cloth slowly polishes it off. If the polish is not completely removed, Hoeben tells us that it will increase the oxidation of the metal, thus leading to green patina buildup. Some individuals may prefer this look, while others may not.
Hoeben will continue experimenting with theses filaments as well as others, and is patiently waiting on additional materials to be made available. Let’s hear your thoughts on the ‘Split Personality’ piece in the bronzeFill/copperFill forum thread on 3DPB.com.