Friday, May 7, 2010


For anyone wondering where I'm casting these bots (and the previously released Mephisto logo figures) the answer may astound you...

my kitchen!

You're not astounded? Good, because resin work is not terribly difficult and anyone interested should definitely give it a go. Its a great way to build your own blank platform pieces, extra weapons for action figures, jewelry and just about anything else. I haven't personally figured out articulation with resin yet, but I have some theories I may be trying out some time this summer (round 2 of 9th Circle Robotics... or maybe something new... I've got some ideas kicking around).

It does take some trial and error and you definitely want to watch some tutorials (of which there are many online, I watched a couple at the Smooth-On site where I get supplies). There are several different methods and materials to choose from. It takes a lot of thinking ahead, but with trial and error, you'll learn what works and what doesn't pretty quick... and suddenly something you saw in a tutorial that seemed like it could be skipped, ends up being a really important step that saves an entire project from collapse (I'm not talking about me... why do you ask?).

Here are some pics of my "work area" aka the "we're not cooking tonight cuz I'm making robots" production area.

The whole shebangabang:

Here are what my molds look like from the top:
These are simple two piece molds waiting to be filled with resin. The rubber bands hold the mold together firmly, but without squeezing to the point of altering the shape. This reduces the amount of flack around the piece (molds that are not firmly pressed together will allow resin to seep into the dividing gap, causing your piece to have an "aura" of thin resin around it; easy enough to remove, but an added step to slow your process is never fun).

Then you mix your resin solution, mine is a simple white resin with a seven minute pot life (ie: work time) and a half hour cure time (though 45 minutes really ensures the piece is set and sturdy). You want to pour slowly and into the lowest point, allowing the resin to find its own level and push out air. Air pockets are bad... they result in unseemly pock marks that can render a piece useless (unless you can work it into the design). Here are some molds filled with resin as it cures:



I've placed cardboard slabs against the mold's sides to equally distributes the pressure applied by the rubber bands (don't want them cinching in one area and flaring out another like an hour glass). The flat cardboard also keeps the bands from digging into the silicone itself. I have them gripping the mold both horizontally and vertically. I've found that just putting rubber bands across one axis (horizontal or vertical) causes the perpendicular axis to flair out every so slightly over time. The tic tac toe manner in which I've attached the rubber bands is a great way to ensure the mold is pressed together evenly.

From time to time, I'll spray and work in a bit of mold release. Its not needed every run, or even every day. It really depends on how much you're doing at a time. You'll know when you need it during the removal of a set piece, if it seems to stick a bit on its way out, its time for more release. You don't want a piece tearing out any silicone because that alters the mold's shape and that alters the shape of piece you intend to make. Silicone is pretty resilient but thin areas will tear quite easily if you don't take care of them. I use a spray mold release for a nice even coat, just two quick bursts of spray and massage it in.

So now everyone has an idea of the high class operation I have going here at the 9th Circle Robotics Labs at Mephisto Design Studios. It may have not been that awesome crayon factory episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but then even PBS has more funding than I do...

I hope to have some painted bots up by the end of the weekend, if not by then, certainly early next week.

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