Tips for Working with Materials

Mold making and casting is an easy job as long as you abide by the rules and instructions. Following are some useful tips that every artist should follow, irrespective of the type of mold or cast.

The world of mold making and casting opens up a veritable treasure trove of materials – each with their own specific characteristics, methods and usage. The commonly used options are clay, wax, alginate, moulage, plaster, gypsum, concrete, polyurethanes, rubbers, etc. Artists can try their hand at different materials and play around with different options depending on the type of mold or cast they are making.

Following are some general tips that beginners should keep in mind when working with almost any kind of material for making molds or casts:

  • Every packaged material comes with its own set of product literature like TDS (Technical Data Sheet), safety data sheet. Always read the label and other product information carefully before using the said product.
  • Work with materials that are already at room temperature and ensure that the room is at room temperature as well.
  • Stick to the prescribed methods and techniques – like mix ratio, type of release agents, compatible materials – at all times. At times, there may be other simple provisions that can make a world of difference. For instance, alginate requires the use of soft/bottled water; using hard water even unintentionally will render the material into a lumpy mess. It takes experience to deviate from the given methods to tinker with the viscosity or other features.
  • Some materials are suitable for certain applications and other options may not work as well, depending on the model, mold-making/casting material and other factors. Choose an appropriate material for the task. Seek advice from experts if needed.
  • Always shake or stir components thoroughly before use. Sludge can sit at the bottom of the box while oil tends to float on the top. Shaking before use followed by proper mixing of the components together is crucial.
  • Always mix a small amount as a batch test at first. It is better to get a feel for the material before mixing in large quantities for the project as it can end up as a time-consuming and expensive mistake.
  • First try your hand at making a small mold or casting, use a small object as a test model before moving on to larger molds or castings.
  • Keep the pot time and working time in mind. Avoid pouring delays as this will add to the working time and can affect the quality of the mold or cast.
  • Before pouring, check if the sealer and release agent have been used, if required. Also check the mold/mold box for leakage before pouring the material.
  • Wear gloves when working with any materials. Some materials may require the use of mouth mask, safety goggles and other additional protection.
  • Use clean and good tools for any project. Assemble the required tools and supplies before starting the work.
  • Follow the indicated set time and demold time to the T. Else, the mold or cast will end up distorted/deformed and unusable.
  • Do not hesitate to ask any questions to the experts about the clay mold, resin casting, cold casting, alginate life casting, etc.

All the best for your new project!

Silicone Rubber - Different Faces and Usage

Silicone rubber is a versatile material that is used for different purposes in both the art and manufacturing world. It displays many useful properties and comes in a few different types too.

Silicone rubber is a popular compound that enjoys widespread patronage across industries and applications. It is commonly used for bonding, sealing, potting, encapsulation, coating, mold making and casting works.

The main benefit is that silicone rubber molds that can be used for manufacturing different types of technical and mechanical parts for industry and medical devices. Apart from molds, silicone rubber is also used as a release agent, adhesive or the base material for the cast. It also functions well in the potting of electronic components in high-tech industrial and scientific equipment.

Artists normally use the rubber to make molds for toys, candles, soaps, food and baking containers apart from special effects. There is a special variety of silicone rubber that is safe for the skin and is used to make body molds.

The same rubber can be used to make casts too and is the material of choice for mask making and doll reborning.

Getting to know Silicone Rubber

RTV silicone rubber is commonly used for molding and casting projects. It delivers various useful properties like ease of use, flexible, tough, durable and tear resistant. This versatile material can reproduce almost anything without damaging the surface of the model. What’s more, the excellent mechanical properties and low surface tension enable it to replicate the mold without losing any of intricacies of the original - the minutest of details will be captured in the mold even down to the skin pores and fingerprints. It can even be cast in abrasive materials.

Silicone rubber formulas are remarkably stable in a wide temperature range and prove to be non-flammable and non-combustible. There is a good level of thermal conductivity too.

The room temperature vulcanizing rubber comes as a 2-part formula – one is the liquid base and the other is the catalyst. They have to be mixed in the specified proportion which can vary from formula to formula. The catalyst will react with the base to deliver the intended properties. It can even be customized to produce the required degree of viscosity and adherence along with varying mechanical, chemical or temperature resistance characteristics.

The rubber comes in two different types – addition cure and condensation cure. The primary difference is in the catalyst - Addition cure silicones use a platinum-based catalyst (usually 10%) while condensation cure silicones need a tin-based catalyst (usually 5%). They have different characteristics and usage and most importantly, are not compatible with each other.

EnvironMolds offers a broad range of materials, supplies, tools and equipment that include both silicone mold and casting rubbers. There are different formulae options to suit varying needs and preferences, like MoldRite 25 Silicone - Classic Mold Making Silicone, BluMold RTV Silicone, 5-Minute Mold Putty for Faster Mold Making, Food Safe Silicone -- BakeSil FDA Approved, LifeRite Skin Safe Silicone for Life Casting and SkinRite 10 Translucent Special F/X Silicone.