Hi, I’m trying to put together an architectural model that includes an underwater feature, a Chartres maze inspired pool of sorts.
Do you think ABS would be able to hold the water without damaging the model? I’m looking for the right material, while still trying to keep costs low. Any recommendations are welcome!
ABS is the stuff lego’s are made of. You will not damage the model with water using that material. PLA is biodegradable, and a bit easier to work with.
Neither ABS or PLA will degrade much in water. PLA is biodegradable, but it is what is known as chemically biodegradable, meaning it does not biodegrade very fast.
ABS, PLA, and Nylon all are hydroscopic, but that does not mean they will absorb a bunch of water and then start degrading. They can only absorb so much water, and then they are fine. They are plastic, after all. Its not like if you print a bowl in PLA, and leave it sit, it will get mushy or start leaking, for example.
All three are fine for water features for architectural models, and I have done several in PLA.
The real issue is gettting watertight features with the 3d printer.
The solution there is to coat the “pool” of your model with XTC3D. It is a smoothing epoxy made for 3d printing, and will make your pool watertight.
So just about every material used in the 3D printing world (PLA, ABS, Nylon, PC, etc.) are hygroscopic to some extent, meaning that the plastics have a strong affinity to attract moisture and that they will absorb moisture into their internal molecular structure if left in a humid/wet environment. Some are more prone to suck up moisture than others (PLA and Nylon, I’m looking at you) while it takes others (ABS & PC) awhile to be impacted by it. They won’t break down or turn to mush, but you might get some swelling and warping.
For this project I would suggest steering away from PLA. ABS is definitely your most economical bet, but do you have to use water? If you used a resin, like what modelers use on dioramas, you wouldn’t have to worry about water damage once it’s dry. You could also coat whatever will be touching water with an epoxy resin before filling, this way you have a barrier between the water and the actual plastic.
L’ABS è ottimo (magari lo vernici con una resina trasparente a 2 componenti !)…
Both PLA or ABS won’t be affected by water but 3d prints are usually never watertight, liquids leak through the layers. I have never used it before but I read Taulman T-glase deliver good results at holding liquids. You could also use some coating to seal your model. I don’t remember what they are called but these are sold in hardware stores, it’s like a silicon type of primer for sealing and even surfaces.
Riffing on this idea of water tightness this is a good read on the viability of 3d prints for acting as custom 3d printed air tanks in a robotics competition 3D printed compressed air tank | CVRA
Another option for sealing an ABS print would be to wash over the surface with a little bit of acetone (enough to wet the surface, but not so much as to pool), this will “weld” the layers together as it dries giving it slightly more chance to be water tight.