cornstarch models?

I was watching a promotional video yesterday and the designer in it talked about making a cornstarch model. I think I’ve found some recipes via google, but I was wondering if anyone here has some tips to working with it?

hmmm, that is interesting! That would be so much nicer than foam.

That’s what I’m thinking. Especially around kids!

What I found was a recipe for white glue and cornstarch with a little vegetable oil. Supposedly it makes a clay that air dries. The reason I ask for some designer tips is some of the recipes say that it shrinks quite a bit while drying and can crack. Should I paste it over a foam block or make a brick of this stuff? Also, what tools are best to form it? This guy is using a coarse file. Any other recommendations?

Sounds like someone replaced the flour in the play dough recipee with white glue.

how old was the video?
there were a bunch of 3d printers in late 90s early 00s that used cornstarch as a the primary medium.
maybe there are still some out there?

Weren’t the zcorp printers cornstarch and resin?

MD is right - ZCorps are pretty much cornstarch and cured with a low viscosity “super glue”

that model looks very much like a Zcorp model - while fragile, you can do some great shaping before they are cured…

you can also impregnate them with resin post to really harden them… still fragile but I have a couple of zcorp prints from 15 years ago here :slight_smile:

Those things can turn to bricks! I love Zcorp for resolution and speed.

Owning a Zcorp was just short of hell. The Z-axis kept getting munged up - combine powder and lubricant, no surprise - and with moderate use we had the tech out at least quarterly to replace parts. Utterly impossible to keep clean and the super-glue curing was unpleasant. The whole model would get hot as the glue kicked off. Its a relic of 3D printing in the early 00’s that I am glad is gone. We sold our machine for like 10% of its original cost.

I loved the Z corp for quick aesthetic models. Unfortunately, the manager that had bought it wanted functional models, which it just doesn’t do. I had a big bin of super glue to dip my models. Worked great. As for maintenance, it wasn’t bad. However, as a $30+ industrial machine, it required the fiddling of a hobbyist machine to get it right.

I did think maybe this designer was talking about z corp prints. I think the video is 2~4 years old. Also, why wouldn’t they say, “3D print”. Every marketing person loves to talk to me about 3d printing…

Last, the video shows the designer carving the part. In my experience, I try to do a sketch model and carve that. 3D print off of CAD that I think is final. Maybe just sand the final model to get a better finish.

Couldn’t agree more. Certainly love / hate… mostly hate.

It is an interesting approach given the way tools are evolving. CAD up some quick archetypal primitive, print them in multiples, had carve them to explore differences in form…

There are no rules! i’ve never been afraid to hack, carve or add bondo or clay to a 3d print.
Some times 3d printing is faster than hand modeling and some times hand modeling is faster than heading back in to cad and reprinting.

I think it depends on precision & cost. A 8x2 sheet of blue foam is $20 and can make a ton of models (I’m actually still re-using cut-offs from when I redid my basement two years ago). Just 1 3D print (3" x 8" x 1") probably costs $30~40. Plus, I have to wait for the print to be done (4~8 hours). Way cheaper and faster to just hit the foam right away.

No rules though…whatever works best!

Rule 1: There are no rules
Rule 2: See rule 1


I was on an instagram live thing the other day and a student asked what the best tool is for xyz… my response was nobody cares about tools, they care about results. I saw a video of this retired Japanese dude making beautiful Japanese landscape art… using Microsoft Excel… no rules.

But, it does seem like cast blocks of cornstarch would be an awesome product. I guess you wouldn’t want to make insulation out of it because if you had a leak all of your insulation would dissolve like those cornstarch peanuts…

Could you post the recipe you found, please? I’d be interested in trying something like this as I work in a school setting and foam just isn’t practical. I can try out baking some bricks a few ways and post what I find out here.

This was the first page in google. THe first recipe looks interesting, but I need to do more research.

It’s the first time I hear about cornstarch models. Also, never heard about Zcorp cornstarch, so I decided to Google it to learn more about the topic. In an article from 2014, “Cornstarch Modeling Clay Recipes & Tips”, the author states that one should expect shrinkage of up to 30% by weight (not in size) as your pieces dry.