Standard Procedures for Making a Silicone Mold

With silicone being a popular and useful mold making material that delivers variety of benefits, artists should be aware of the basics when working with this rubber. Following are some tips on the same.

There are varied options of materials when it comes to making molds. While any malleable material like clay, wax, alginate or resin can be used to create a negative of the master model, rubbers have emerged as the material of choice, especially for professional mold makers. Then again, while there is a choice of polyurethane, latex and thermoset mold rubbers, silicone is preferred for many a reason.

To start with, mold making silicone is easy to use. The material has sufficient working time and cures fairly quickly to deliver durable, tear resistant and heat resistant molds. In fact, the molds will last for years and can be used to make any number of castings.The molds do not shrink much either. A variety of materials – like wax, plaster, gypsum, resins and even low-temperature melt metal alloys – can be cast in a silicone mold. Demolding is also easy as silicone does not stick to anything except itself.

Basic Preparation

Silicone rubber can be used to make molds of anything from figurines, statues, architectural pieces and picture frames to soaps, candles, toys, jewelry and more. The applications also include conventional prototype tooling and stereolithography.

The silicone has to be mixed with the catalyst in the specified ratio prior to use. Both the base and catalyst should first be stirred in their own containers before weighing the required amount of silicone base into a clean mixing container. A useful tip is to tilt the container and roll the material all the way around the sidewall, leaving about two inches from the top. This may sound unnecessary at first, but the coating will work to keep the catalyst from getting absorbed into the container, thus giving a better mix.

After this, the required amount of catalyst can be weighed into the container. Mix the two together by stirring with a stiff, flat-ended metal spatula until a uniform color is obtained. It is better to keep scraping the container walls and bottom to insure a thorough mix.

While artists usually vacuum degas the silicone rubber mix, it is generally not needed for most applications as a uniform flow into the mold box is enough to minimize entrapping of air. In case it is being deaired, the mixing container should be filled only to one-third of its depth to allow sufficient room for expansion during the deaeration.

Additionally, it is noted that low temperature and humidity increases both the work and pot life of silicone rubbers. Some artists even opt to refrigerate the base material before using it in hot environments.

Finally, the catalyst container should be closed tightly after use as exposure to air for an extended period can cause a film or crust to form on the catalyst and this hydrolyzed material will lead to improper curing.

MoldRite 25 Silicone is a popular material for general silicone mold making. The quality of impressions captured by these silicone molds is exceptionally outstanding.

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