Jay Mazur, from Reynolds Advanced Materials, stopped by Nova Labs on January 25 to lead a demonstration on various types of mold making materials, applications, and techniques. Hailing from Macungie, PA, Reynolds Advanced Materials is a distributor for Smooth-on, a supplier of many different casting supplies to hobby and industrial markets.
Classrooms A and B were both full of people interested in learning more about what can be done with urethane, silicone, rubber, epoxy, and more. Some of the materials had pot-life (the time you can work with the material after mixing the various parts together) in the two or three minute range, while others remain workable for much longer. A cast of a large silicone dime in Smoothcast 300Q (Q for “quick” apparently!) even had a dramatic reaction going from clear to opaque in a few seconds, surprising everyone in the room. It was pulled from the mold and passed around the room hardly 30 minutes after being mixed and cast.
Jay offered tips for working with various products:
The ‘double pour and mix.’ – you start by mixing in one cup, then transfer to another cup to ensure that you can thoroughly stir all the hard-to-reach material at the bottom of the container.
For foams, mixing part B a LOT before you combine with part A will help – you can add a lot of air to part B without worrying about the pot life (one flexibile foam he demonstrated only had a pot life of 50 seconds, so pre-mixing really helps).
You should also keep some clay on hand, just in case the wall around the part you are casting begins to leak.
At the end of the multi-part demonstration, Jay mixed a product called Alja-Safe and had everyone do a life cast of their thumb. After the 8-minute cure time, the same fast-cure urethane used on the dime was used to create reproductions of each person’s casting. At least a few people said that these would be used to create literal USB thumb drives!
Prepping the Alja-Safe alginate before each student was able to mold their thumb.
Molding a thumb in Alja-Safe.
6-8 minutes later, each participant could remove his or her thumb
Thumbs ready to be filled.
Round 1 complete, mixing round 2. The pot life of the Smoothcast 300Q was no more than 70 seconds, so Jay had to pour fast.
Red tinted Smoothcast 300Q for the thumbs. Photo by Brian Jacoby
Waiting for the thumbs to cure.
Comparison of the copy to the real deal.
A thumb in SC300Q.
Here are some more photos from the class.
Jay Mazur pouring the first item
A casting made of Dustin Hoffman’s face. The first layer was SC325 with flesh color added. Foam iT!5 was used as a backfill material, and was tinted blue at the request of someone inthe class. The skin-toned first layer was too thin to be opaque.
Showing the difference between resins being degassed in a vacuum chamber vs. not.
Large silicone mold of a dime.
The finished dime mold, including color. Product was SC300Q and Red Devil Cast Magic powder.
Testing Body Double Fast, a skin-safe silicone made to capture fine detail.
The details captured in Body Double Fast silicone.
Resin with bronze dust. Product was Cold Cast SC Onyx Fast with Bronze powder.
A resin with bronze dust in it and lightly polished. Product was Cold Cast SC Onyx Fast with Bronze powder.
2 castings of a hand and forearm.
2 part silicone mold.
2 part mold for a model car.
This post was written by Andrew Albosta for the Nova Labs blog, and cross-posted here.
Nova Labs recently bought a ShopSabre RC-4 CNC router for the wood shop. A few copies of VCarve are on computers at the makerspace, allowing members to setup their tool path.
Some of the regulars on Wednesday night decided to do a “one-night-build,” or a project we could start and finish in an evening. I started thinking of ideas that we could do on the new tool (mostly so I could learn to use it).
We landed on building some stools downloaded from the open source furniture website OpenDesk. Most designs on the site are setup for 4×8′ sheets of material but we found the Johann Stool from Johann Aussage would fit easily on our half sheets of plywood.
Adobe Illustrator was used to modify the designs for the actual thickness of the plywood we bought, and to eliminate some decoration.
Starting to work through the setup in VCarve.
After those design considerations were fixed, we used VCarve to setup the tool path. They have a a makerspace license allowing for people to use the software at home in basically a trial mode, but save the G-code from the properly licensed software at the makerspace.
3D representation of the toolpath from VCarve
A .25″ end mill was used for everything, including the holes for pins during assembly.
Part-way through cutting the first stool from the 3/4″ plywood.
Part-way through cutting the first stool from the 3/3″ plywood.
Final cleanup was done with a 1/8″ roundover router bit on the regular router table. The laser cutter was used to engrave the NovaLabs logo on the top of the seat, and a credit to the designer was etched (vector cutting at fast speed/low power) onto the bottom.
Johann Stool partially assembled (using nails instead of 1/4″ dowels to hold the sides on).
Top and bottom of the finished Johann Stools.
Nova Labs logo laser engraved on the stool tops.
Vector etching (light cut) on the bottom of the stools with a shout-out to the designer.
Finished and assembled Johann Stools with Nova Labs logo.
A colleague/friend of mine got her first solo apartment was lamenting that she was needed a bunch of household necessities, including a napkin holder. Since she hadn’t been in a while, I suggested suggested she could make her own at Nova Labs. Annoyed, she told me to make her one; I thought the best gift was one she’d regret asking for…
The first thoughts included some messy clipart faces (think Garbage Pail Kids stickers), but I quickly settled on some nice type and alliteration.
The design. Font is Avenir Next Ultra Light
Edge view of the napkin holder
The design for the napkin holder itself was whipped up in Illustrator using a simple tabbed box type design.
Production happened using the laser cutter at Nova Labs.
Cutting the first napkin holder on Mongo, Nova Labs’ 100w CO2 laser cutter.
Before pulling the parts out of the laser cutter.
Parts after a light sanding on the downdraft sanding table.
A less vulgar version was created for a neighbor who commented on Facebook that they wanted one, but would have to wait 10 years before their kids could be exposed to the original!
The Nova Labs Kickstarter campaign ended successfully back in early 2015. One of the higher backer levels was for the backers’ name on a wall in the space, but we also planned on sending them a plaque.
I didn’t expect that someone would put 4 mounting standoffs on their wall, so I thought that something more like a paperweight for the backer’s desk or bookcase would be better.
At the fall 2015 Adobe MAX conference, a booth for Universal Laser allowed attendees to make wooden stamp blocks using Adobe’s Creative Cloud Shared Libraries to get files from workstations to the folks running the laser. As the exhibition floor was shutting down they were handing out the remaining cubes, so I grabbed a few of the blanks to play with at home. I thought the 2″ cubes could be a good format for the backer reward.
Not wanting to settle on the first material idea I had, I also ordered a clear acrylic cube to test on.
In the end the acrylic seemed way too ‘corporate gift’ looking, with the birch wood being way warmer, especially after giving the final pieces a coat of tung oil.
Setup and production
Cubes in the Laser Cut software
Test cube and production cubes waiting for engraving (note the numbers on each face so I could keep track of order and “this end up” orientation).
First pass on the production run.
The key to engraving these easily was setting up a row of seven 2″ squares that were lightly cut into a sacrificial material. The blocks were then put on these lines ensuring accurate placement of each faces’ design.
Fortunately the position of “home” doesn’t change as you adjust the Z-height (you need to do the light guide cut with the laser focused on the paper or foamcore, and then drop the bed down to accommodate the height of the block.)
Masking tape was used to reduce the discoloration of the wood due to smoke from the engrave, but I’m not sure if it was worth the time needed to remove all of the tiny counters of the text, vs sanding with a belt or disk sander.
Tape off of the wood cube, but still on the acrylic.
As it was, the wood cubes were still sanded down after removing the tape. They were eventually finished with tung oil after doing a few tests with other finishes such as varnish and shellac.
We wanted to see if there was something else to make them in 2015, so we brainstormed over email. Someone presented a sketch of a Christmas ornament shaped item, and knowing I can whip out this sort of thing I went ahead and made the prototype. Plus, I hadn’t actually cut anything from this particular shade of red 1/8″ acrylic, so it was a good test.
In the end we didn’t do anything because of heavy workload in December, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Oh, and I hope the Brand folks at work don’t see sad Inky made from the scrap cutouts. It is definitely not on-brand!
Cut out and waiting assembly.
Do not leave the extra pieces with a designer late at night.
And the Stomp Rockets have lights to boot! Pretty awesome if it weren’t so cold outside…
One problem with the set is that the base is pretty flimsy. It would move all over the place as they used it, and it was hard to keep the rocket pointed more-or-less straight up.
Having no there really pressing projects to work on, I whipped up an Apollo era looking launch tower for the Stomp Rocket launcher/tube assembly.
You bet. When I showed the pictures at work someone commented “do your kids realize that most dads don’t do this sort of thing for toys?” Of course they don’t, but it’s fun for me so I do it anyway.
Everything was laser cut. Material was some 1/4″ MDF, but it cut really easily. The base was another piece of 1/4″MDF, but it was wayyyy different and required multiple passes, and had a ton of charring on the edge. I cleaned that edge up on a belt sander.
The basic shape came from the BoxMaker site, and the pattern was created in Illustrator.