3D Printing Custom Trophies: A Cost-Effective Solution to an Expensive Time-Consuming Traditional Process

Apr 9, 2020

How 3D printing works to create trophies?

3D printing is innovating the way of creating custom trophies. Considered as a cost-effective solution, this technology allows the creation of rapid and inexpensive 3D print trophy models and production compared to traditional methods to create or cast trophies with clay, mold and metal casting.


Making Bronze Trophy Models with 3D Printing Technology

” 3D printing allowed a cost effective solution to what is normally an expensive and more time consuming traditional process using clay, molds, and metal casting. “

– Tim King_King Sculpture Studios

Tim​ ​King​ ​is​ ​a​ ​traditional​ ​sculptor​ ​in​ ​Longmont, Colorado.​ ​While​ ​also​ ​respectful​ ​of traditional​ ​lost-wax​ ​bronze​ ​techniques,​ ​Tim has​ newly ​integrated​ ​digital​ ​design​ ​and​ ​3D​ ​printing options​ ​into​ ​his​ ​creative​ ​processes.​ ​He​ ​enjoys life-long​ ​learning​ ​about​ ​tools​ ​and​ ​techniques which​ ​enable​ ​the​ ​translation​ ​of​ ​his​ ​ideas​ ​of beauty​ ​and​ ​emotions​ ​into​ ​physical​ ​creations.​ ​He​ ​believes in the combination of ​3D printing​ ​with​ ​ancient​ ​bronze​ as​ ​an amazing​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​increase​ ​awareness, affordability,​ ​and​ ​love​ ​of​ ​inheritance​ ​quality​ ​art to​ ​be introduced to a​ ​much​ ​wider​ ​audience.​ Tim’s current focus is upon family and dance.


Before implementing 3D printing for his creations, Tim King used a traditional process that involved long lasting and labor-intensive tasks. With traditional processes, many resources such as clay sculptures that are wasted as they are only are used once and then are destroyed.

With traditional sculpting methods, creating custom pieces and prototypes result in:

  1. Laborious manual work and processes invested for many hours.
  2. Utilization of materials and resources that can’t be re-used.
  3. Difficulty in the creation for various models’ scale for repetition.

After the implementation of Raise3D printers, the Tim’s company was able to:

  1. Decrease production time by eliminating manual work and laborious production by beginning directly the creation of complete models
  2. Design high-quality accurate models by offering new sculpture designs in multiple sizes due to the perfect repetition or 3D printed pieces.
  3. Reduce material costs by create 3D printed models at a very low-cost.

Company: King Sculpture Studios
Industry: Bronze Sculptures
Interviewee: Tim King
Title: Classic Sculptor

What is the process of creating custom-made metal trophies with 3D printing?

The ancient lost-wax bronze process involves labor-intensive steps spanning from 4 months to a year. At King Sculpture Studios, this traditional process consists of only 15 steps thanks to the help of 3D printing.




4. The Cured rubber molds are cleaned, and the outer sections are covered with plaster for support.

5. Layers of wax are then added to the inside of the mold. These are painted or poured to build each layer until it is 3/16″ thick. One wax copy is required every time a bronze sculpture is cast.

6. The detailed wax replica of the sculpture pieces are removed from the molds. Mold seam lines are removed, and some of the wax pieces are reassembled. Flaws such as air bubbles and bumps are manually removed and sculpted in wax.



7. Wax spruces are added to properly guide the flow of air and molten bronze. Sprues are wax sticks that connect to the model to allow these pathways.

8. The wax pieces are repeatedly dipped into a fine sand slurry mixture to build up 12 layers over multiple days. All sides of the wax are coated in order to make a hollow sculpture. The shell also must be created for every individual bronze casting and can only be used one time.

9. Pressured steam is used to melt the wax from the hardened shell. The inner walls of the now hollow shell are ready to be filled with bronze.



10. Molten bronze is then poured into each shell.

11. Using air hammers, plasma cutters, and sandblasting, the ceramic shell is broken and cleaned from the cooled bronze parts.

12. Parts that were cast separately are then welded back together.



13. Air tools, burs, and sanding are used to hide weld lines and to recreate the original sculpture textures.

14. An oven, chemicals, traditional pigments, torches, airbrushes, and hand scrubbing are used to apply color. The patina is protected by lacquer, and the lacquer is protected by hand buffing with paste wax.

15. Pieces are finished by being attached to a stone or wooden base.

By utilizing 3D printing, Tim King can create and print repeated pieces of specific custom parts. With the 3D models, he can still create trophy molds and continue the casting process whish now bypasses some of the time-consuming sculpting stages.

By scanning a pre-existing sculpture, King can make replicas of his original works in a wide variety of sizes which would have originally required sculpting a new clay model for each size.

Another application King uses involves the aid of 3D sculpting software. King can create his sculpture digitally and directly produce it in a 3D printer without the need for clay sculpting.

Lastly, 3D printed pieces can be used directly as a sculpture and can be post-processed to resemble many different textures and materials.

Referencing dozens of images of his client’s friend, King created the design in Z-Brush and printed small models on his N2 Plus. By utilizing a 3D printer, replicas like these small trophy models are the same every time which gives the artist a chance to confirm the design of the model before printing and painting the final product.


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