Customs: help from the pro's?

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by Megatron31, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    some of you guys who have designed accessories and then had them professionally produced for retail obviously, venksta comes to mind,

    i was curious about how you guys make your designs come to life (or plastic form rather) i have some things up and coming and was thinking about taking some of my stuff to the next level and out of house.

    so my questions are for you guys that have done it what is your process

    are your prototypes hand built or 3d printed
    do you cast it all yourself or do you outsource
    is it cost efficient or even worth it aside from the joy of providing others with cool stuff

    any idea's or thoughts on this

    (im not looking for particulars like who you have used or anything like that i just want this to be an open forum for those who do this kinda of thing to talk shop and bounce ideas around.

    i know shapeways has kinda changed the game for some of us as far as ease and accessibility as long as the end user can paint the product they purchase it seems fantastic, but for some who cant paint and still want a product that is ready to be used when they get it... there is us.

    I'm not looking to compete with anyone here i just want to do something better with the designs i have and improve my craft and output.


    DISCUSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    ^ you are correct my friend more 3rd party accessories is what my intention would be.

    and sounds like you have the relative hook-up

    Im in the states so that may present another problem for me
     
  3. Bigbot3030

    Bigbot3030 Well-Known Member

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    I'd start out small, because when you see the price for injection tooling the first time, it's going to be a shock. But it's not impossible. You have to try and find something that will be worth it to the buyer AND you. if you aren't into the project, it's just not going to come out as good.

    I make alot of my stuff by hand. I would make more things in the computer and have them printed, but I don't have access to a good(cheap) printer....until now. :wink:  probably one of the best things to come out of going back to school.

    Randy!
     
  4. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    yeah my thought was if i can find a 3rd party to cast the part from my prototype, and have it mass produced (orders of a 1000's or see how many it takes to get the price reasonalbe) and sell them off as i get orders or perhaps start a site to do all that through.

    not sure, im just blissfully unaware of my options
     
  5. deliciouspeter

    deliciouspeter Back in Black TFW2005 Supporter

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    Start small. Simple stuff like heads/fists/guns are the way to go. 1-3 parts.
    Shapeways is a good way to start, it is essentially "prototyping" your design. The materials are somewhat poor compared to injection molding, but you really can't get it any cheaper to prove your concept.

    When it comes to injection molding, for a full figure, every single part needs to be designed, and the mold tooled. Each part needs to prototyped, assembled, tested, then the mold revised, and repeated until it's right. All of which takes time, and all of which has to take place within the shop's schedule. Most shops have a limited number of presses and a limited number of "active" molds.

    My first pass, the estimate to get 1,000 pieces was just over $60K. That's no paint, just the base figure. That was "friend" prices for the shop, which had no guarantee, meaning if things went wrong, we still had to pay. If the mold was shit, we still paid. If it took longer than they estimated, we'd pay more. That was for a full voyager sized figure that consisted of about 60 parts. Also they would fit it in their downtime, meaning it could take months to see anything.

    This can a full time job for multiple people with no guarantee of any return on investment. It's a big job to do it right, and a big waste of money if you do it wrong.

    When you see what goes into something as complex as a full figure, you'll understand why smaller shops like CrazyDevy focus on simpler projects at smaller runs, with the higher relative price. If I ever took another stab at it, I'd go with small parts that if successful, might pay for the next project.

    Look for short run injection molding shops in your area. Keep in mind, a short run, custom mold is not uncommon in the manufacturing world, so there are places that are happy to do it. Just they typically are making pumps and bolts and stuff like that...stuff that already is at market.

    Wow, this got long. Sorry, I hope this helps, and keep in mind this is just my limited experience.
     
  6. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    I'm not thinking about a full figure I'm more interested in accessories at this point. But it is interesting to hear cause it a side that is not openly discussed in a useful form
     
  7. Venksta

    Venksta Render Project Creations TFW2005 Supporter

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    For accessories, I suggest keeping it to resin casting. Its cheaper to invest in good equipment for casting, then going to try and making steel tooling. Plus, its easier to sell 50 pieces, than a 1000.

    For the best type of resin casting, I highly suggest casting under pressure, with a converted paint pot, into a pressure pot. You can get really good results, and even factory quality, which a lot of people say about my stuff, which is surprising.

    For creating the master part, to be used to make the molds, I suggest designing in 3d, and getting it printed through shapeways or someone.

    After helping the Corbot guys out with the War Axe, I prefer to make all my accessories and upgrade kits through casting. Way less of a headache. Plus, you can keep prices low, if you can minimize wasted castings.
     
  8. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    ^ i just assumed due to some of the pics i have seen or your stuff you prototyped yourself and had a 3rd party due a limited run of casts for ya. interesting to know its the other way around.

    i have talked to a friend who does automotive casting for plastic mirrors and he offered to help me with a vaccum setup quite a while ago, but at the time i didnt see the need for it and now im beginning to wonder. but my current material doesnt have a pot-life long enough to even consider a vaccum chamber or pressure chamber. but down the road who knows

    but thanks for chiming in Venksta i was hoping you would pop in and share
     
  9. Venksta

    Venksta Render Project Creations TFW2005 Supporter

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    As long as you go through a factory, you will need to make a steel mold, and that will always cost a lot of money.

    For pressure casting, you really do need a longer pot life resin. I use Smooth On for my molds and resin. For my choice of resin, I use Smooth Cast 326. It has a average time of 8 minutes for the pot life (depending on the dyes you put in). Thats enough time to pour the resin into the mold, and pressurize it. It can be demolded after 1 hour. Check out Smooth On's website. I believe you can order their products through there as well.
     
  10. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    i have checked into them per another member on heres recomendation, i have just been using allumilte for most of my stuff as it was easily availible at a local hobby store and i would get 40% off coupons periodically. but the trade off is the much shortor pot life of 90 seconds, but i can make a cast every 15 minutes from mixing to deflashing if i get in a good groove.

    but some of my more intricate designs catch airbubbles in the details that i just cant get rid of sometiems perceptors sniper rifle is the worst, but i assumbe pressure casting would be pushing all the air out of the mold.

    does pressure casting reduce the life span of a mold?
     
  11. Zildjian

    Zildjian Well-Known Member

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    Smooth-On product is WORLDS better than Alumilite's...... there really is no comparison IMHO.
     
  12. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    i have used their stuff once (a friend let me borrow it and it didnt work out that great for me) but it was their transparent formula it bubbled so bad and bulged as well it was really weird, i tried casting with it 3 times and never got a useable cast.

    but casting from my limited experience can be finicky depending on weather conditions and such
     
  13. Zildjian

    Zildjian Well-Known Member

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    That is the problem right there.... you need to use the correct product. FASTER is not better. People want the quick results when casting, and that will 100% of the time produce shitty results.

    The best results will come from silicone that takes a full 24 hours to solidify, and then another 7 days to fully cure. With this the best resins have a 5 to 10 minute working time (pot life) and 30 minute to 1 hour cure time. This given both the silicone and resin time to degas themselves.

    I also use a pressure pot to help degas the resin and push it into all of the small areas of the molds.

    I use Mold Max 25 and 30 silicone rubber and Smooth Cast Onyx along with Smooth Cast 385/380.
     
  14. hXcpunk23

    hXcpunk23 The Chaos Bringer

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    I just picked up the Smooth-On casting kit (since these were my first casting attempts, I wanted the whole mess at once, with plenty of documentation). lol

    Anyway, I second Smooth-On after doing some molds and casting some stuff. I think it all depends on the mix. With the stuff I have (OOMOO 30 Tin-Cure Silicone Rubber and Smooth Cast 300 Fast Setting-White), you mix equal parts of each (the silicone rubber, parts A & B and the smooth cast 300, parts A & B) respectively. The molds need to sit at least 6 hours and when they're ready, the smooth cast (A & B) are mixed equally, then poured slowly. So far, I've had some great casts come from this and I've only been doing this for maybe a week now.

    I have noticed though, that on a few that I poured too fast or didn't get enough mold release in before pouring, came out with either bubbled sections in the plastic or bubbled up sections. The bubbled up sections clean up nicely, but the sections missing chunks are just scrap. If you pour it slowly and have the right mix, it should be fine--I had the mix off on one batch and they came out rubbery. You can literally bend and squish the heads a bit. On all others, the plastic came out nice and hard, holding great detail.

    I haven't tried Alumilite, but I hear it's good also, but I've heard better feedback on Smooth-On.

    Just letting you know my experiences with it, man! Also, the setting time for the plastic is 15 minutes, so after about 15-20 minutes, I'll pop the mold and it's usually good to go. It's great for the custom heads I'm casting and that's really all I wanted/needed it for.
     
  15. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    when i mentioned the bubbleing earlier i was talking about smooth-on Z, although i would like to use their equal part mold silicone as opposed to the 2-1 ratio allumilites stuff. but to be honest i have never had the issues with allumilite despite hearing how much they get a bad rep on this site, their stuff has been great for me as long as the design inst to intricate with its details and im not sure without a pressure pot that any other would be different.

    but i would like to give them a try for the pot life and setting it on a vibe table to see if the airbubbles could be freed. i have also never used any mold release either, i just cook the mold for 30-40 seconds and pour the resin straigh in
     
  16. Venksta

    Venksta Render Project Creations TFW2005 Supporter

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    The first time I used Smooth Cast, I got micro bubbles. And thats the case, if I don't cast under pressure. However, keep in mind, even with pressure casting, you can still get bubbles. Not tiny ones, but big ones, depending on how will you vented your mold.

    I read you have trouble with perceptor's gun. Below is a way I'd set my mold up. I'd basically make a channel to pour the resin in, and use the gun as a "vent", to let the resin come up and out of. I learned this trick of "up pour". Don't pour into the part, have it filled up from the bottom up instead. All the blue areas are channels that should help vent the mold, and allow resin to follow properly, and minimize large air bubbles. The top section, is the reservoir. Its important to make it big enough, so that when your pressure casting, you have extra resin to get push into the mold, when the bubbles are crushed.

    Its also important to learn how to pour resin for each mold you create. Pouring too fast, and you can easily have a big pocket of air get trapped from the rushing resin, coming up on one side.
     

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  17. hXcpunk23

    hXcpunk23 The Chaos Bringer

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    Thanks for sharing that tip, Venksta! I appreciate it, since I just started learning (and doing) molds and casts myself.
     
  18. Venksta

    Venksta Render Project Creations TFW2005 Supporter

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    That "up pour" technique saved me a lot of resin, when I redid my Skyfall guns for the 3rd batch. In the original 2 batches, I had 1 good gun out of every 5 casted. Once I changed the mold design to this technique, almost every gun I cast now is perfect. There are the odd ones with a bubble somewhere, but its difficult to get a 100% perfect casting every time.
     
  19. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    This thread is totally rockin'! Keep posting your feedback, as I think this would make a nice tutorial-discussion type of resource :) 
     
  20. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    venksta thanks for posting that pic, almost all of my molds are done that way now, my very first was not. there was a thing in the tutorials that mentions this method of casting. my new rifle mold is made that way except the gun is upside down, the areas i have trouble with are the ammo clip where the raised triangle is, and the very back of the gun where there is the circle with the line in the middle the corners of it seem to catch air. out of the 20-25 or so of those i have made i think only one time has it worked like it is supposed to.

    my seeker nullrays molds and the perceptor pistol i have, almost never put out a cast with bubbles once the mold is perfected (venting and trimming)

    but thank you guys for sharing your experience on all of this, casue if you look on this site their isnt very much on casting beyond making the mold and a basic walk through.

    like the one that mentions using 4 marbles on the second part of a 2 part mold but never says why?
     

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