Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Late Night Idea

So I was up late the other night getting things in order for a tournament I have this weekend and came up with this little idea. I have a tendency to just stare at my models sometimes and realized what a pain it is to deploy out of my Wave Serpents because of the angle of the doors. Now I know this has nothing to do with my Chaos project, but hey.....

There may be other posts about this somewhere but I have never come across one so thought I would throw my idea out there about making deployment templates. I always felt that I was screwing myself and that if had just that little bit it would have made a difference. Now during a tournament I can't really take the time to check every model and min/max my deployment. So as not to look like a complete tool by measuring every model or getting frustrated trying to fit a squad of 10 Banshees in the area I made these....

How To:
  • Material Needed - Plasticard, I used Plastruct 1mm flat but you could probably use whatever.
First I took the Wave Serpent off the base and laid it on a piece of paper. I then marked the corners of the door and then connected the two corners with a strait line (the ramp exit). I then took a compass (measured out 2") and at each corner made a circle till about the center of the doors. Next you need to draw strait lines out 2" from the corners perpendicular to the ramp line and then connect those. After your paper template is made just transfer it to the plasticard and paint it.

Hope you enjoyed this quick little idea, I will be making some for my Rhinos once I get to them built, so really it can be translated to any army transports.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So I posted late last night on the pitfalls of making molds for small bitz for a 40K army. Today I am going to try to explain the process I went through from beginning to end and help anyone else with the learning curve. Let me first say by no means am I a expert in this, but after getting my feet wet I will give what I think are some key mistakes I made the first time around. Just as a side note, I do have a few friends who I will be getting with the first week of October who used to work at the old Ral Partha plant here in Cincinnati before Wizards got a hold of them, so be prepared for Class 102 later in October.

To make this tutorial easier to follow I will post a picture first followed by the explanation of what I did to get to that point and some things to look out for during that step.

It was late when I got around to mounting the shoulder pads and I forgot to take a picture of the "master" so this pic was actually taken after I poured the first part of the silicone. I put this here so you could get a idea of what the first part looked like. Use this pic and the one below to get a idea of what it looked like before I tore it apart with out thinking.
  • I used a plasticard base and synthetic clay to attach the shoulder pads to the card. The key here is to fill the inner part of the shoulder pad so it gets a good tight seal between the two. You do not want any silicone to leak under when you are pouring the first part of your mold.
  • Also if you look at the picture below I had a pour hole going down the center of the shoulder pads. In the picture below this is the blue clay you see. Attached to the underside of that is the tube you see left over in the first picture.
  • Of course when I bought the Lego's it came with the apparently useless single pieces which in my tired state I used as guide posts so when I pour the second part of the mold these will allow me to match up both halves exactly every time. (the lego's are worth it in the long run let me tell you)
  • After getting everything together I placed the "master" in the mold box. A couple things to remember before doing this...the clay can be messy so make sure you have all the little bits cleaned up on your master pieces. If you don't these will leave textures on your mold and pieces you wont want in your final product. The second thing is to seal the inside of the mold box with the Rubber Latex. It takes a thin coat so no need to go over board.
  • Mix your silicone according to the manufacture specifications. When you are pouring your mold, pour from one location letting the silicone run over every part so it gets in all the little creases and undercuts.
The key before pouring is to be patient and make sure you have EVERYTHING in place before you mix you silicone. Once it is mixed you have a limited time to pour it before it starts to cure. Any mistakes at this point and you may lose the mix unless it is something minor you missed.

After the first half is cured (approx. 4 hours for the stuff I used), carefully pull everything apart and clean up any flash form the mold. **Important** Do not pull the originals from the mold as you are separating the pieces. These have made a very important seal with the first half that you need intact so when pouring the second half you don't get silicone leaking into your first mold. Again, be patient and be careful.
  • During this process you need to clean all the clay or any other debris from your part. For my shoulder pads I cleaned out the insides making sure I got all the little tiny particles off the original.
  • After your mold is cleaned set it off to the side. At this point you need to clean all the excess latex and silicone from your Lego's and the area in general. Once clean make your mold box as the original, but now it needs to be higher with more depth. This will allow you to pour the second half of your mold with out spillage.
  • Before you start mixing the second half of your mold you need to treat the first half with "Rubber to Rubber" release. If you fail to do this your mold halves will bind together and you will have to cut your original out most likely damaging it and making more waste. Be liberal with the stuff. Put on at least 3 coats making sure you get the edges of your mold even going down the outsides where the two halves will meet. It will not damage your part so don't worry if you get a little excess on your original pieces.
  • In between applying your mold release you should be re-coating the inside of your mold box with latex again making sure you get the cracks. Depending on the viscosity of the silicone you may not need any latex, but that is your call.
I decided to get rid of the air chamber I formed in the first mold so I removed the tube from part of my pour chamber (i later added this back in, all I had to do was shave off the silicone in that section after it cured). Again the pour for the second is just like the first pour slow and steady and allow the silicone to reach all the areas and undercuts.

Above is the finished mold after carefully removing and separating everything I cleaned it with a soft bristle toothbrush, warm water, and some Dawn dish soap. Be careful during this part as to not damage any of your details of the mold.
  • Before you start pouring resin into your mold I will note a few things. Look at or look up the viscosity the resin you are using. The viscosity of the Alumilite I used was 190 it had the consistency of motor oil, give or take. The reason I mention this is that your pour chamber and air releases need to be big enough so the weight of your resin can get into all the crevices and undercuts and allow air to push out before it cures.
  • Also you need to warm up your mold to around 120-140 degrees I did this in the microwave for about 1 min. 20 sec. until it was warm to the touch. The resin uses pressure to get a chemical reaction going, and with the tiny amounts of fluid for parts you have to pre-warm your mold to help get this action to occur.
When I poured my first batch I made a pretty big mess as all my resin backed up because I didn't leave enough room for the air to push itself out. The weight of the resin was just to much. This is why I not only opened the air shaft but also cut the pour chamber deeper and wider. The silicone is real easy to work with and a Xacto knife goes a long way. As a side note all this stuff makes a real mess if you screw something up or are not careful, but just let it all cure and none of it actually sticks to anything so clean it up at a later time not while it is still soft.
  • Just like with the silicone mold mixes before you get all giggity-giggity make sure you mold is dry. Having even the slightest water bead will ruin that part of the mold pour and the surrounding area.
  • Mix your resin according to the manufacture specifications. Remember you have a very short time to get the mold poured and get the air to release. Burb the mold by squeezing it and try to get the bubbles to the surface. Let it cure for the required amount of time and then separate it and see what you got.
  • I noted each part of my mold and what each shoulder pad looked like to see if I could fix any mistakes from previous batches..

The picture above is my very first batch as you can see the first one has a large hole in it. This came from not getting enough resin in that particular chamber. At first I threw it away then pulled it back out thinking of the positive and realizing now I didn't have to sculpt some acid spray damage. The first mold I would say was about 40% successful, but with the quick cure times of resin you can make a ton. Just try to learn form the previous batch until you get it the way you want it.

Some things I will change in the future will be to find a lower viscosity resin (around 90) with a longer pot life. It was tough managing everything and getting everything just right to make it work out.

Thanks in advance for reading this please leave any comments to help me adjust or make it better. Hope you enjoyed reading this and it has helped you out or at least made you aware of the possibilities of molding. Any adjustment I make at a later date will be posted in blue to help you better find anything that may have changed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

OK, so I took a 3 month hiatus from 40K to do other things (non-game related). So I figured what the hell I will jump in feet first and start molding my own bitz. This idea first came to me when I figured out the price to order just the shoulder pads from GW needed to get my army the way I want it. I did my research (or so I thought) on what it would take to mold these items along with lets say some custom plasma guns, combi-weapons, heads, etc... well on the front end it all seemed so easy to do and pretty cost efficient. This article here is to help all those budding young craftsmen avoid or at least be aware of some of the back end costs of making your own bitz.

First my estimated price for bitz for Phase 1 was about $180.00. For a completely unique army I am thinking not to bad, but more than I really want to spend. So here goes:

Starter Molding Kit (Alumilite): $70.00
  • Great kit in my opinion. Has enough silicone to make the mold you see in the post about my first molding experience, but really not much else of any size. I knew going in it wasn't much but truly wasn't sure what it would make. (Molding tutorial will be posted later)
Electronic Scale (Office Depot): $45.00
  • Now this investment I was not planning on. After sitting home reading the instructions for mixing molds and such I realized that although you use volume to figure out how much Silicone you need it is actually mixed by weight. Now you can get less expensive scales but a few things to consider....you need one that will measure grams. Also it must be sensitive, mixing such low weights some scales have a hard time picking up the change. Don't scrimp on the scale if you get your mixes wrong you will pay for it later when your molds don't come out right and you are wasting material.
Lego's (Toys R Us): $30.00
  • So if you do your research about making mold boxes you will note that there are a bunch of ways to make these. If you are trying to save a little $$ on the front end you can forgo these. I opted for Lego's because they are reusable and they clean up really easy after you are done. I also bought one of the 6x6 mats for it. Doing that gives me some room to work with a little spillage area in case something goes wrong or gets knocked around.
Latex Rubber (Woodland Scenics): $13.00
  • Again another investment I was not prepared for until I started reading. So the Silicone does not leak through the Lego's you need a sealer for the inside of your mold box. You don't need much just a thin coat so the bottle you get from Woodland Scenics will last a long time.
9 Volt Battery (Office Depot): $8.00
  • Because I forgot to read the box for the scale, second trip to office supply store (gas not included in price batteries are just that freaking expensive).
Mixing Cups, Stir Sticks (Hobbytown USA): $7.00
  • The stuff that comes with the starter kit is no where near enough to make a go at it so be prepared and just buy more up front (this will help you alleviate the next issue). You may want to pick up some 8oz. plastic cups they seem to be ok for mixing these smaller molds. Stay away from Styrofoam cups as you stir they may shed tiny particles into your mold mix.
All the crap you don't need: $120.00
  • This is all the stuff you had no intentions of buying but couldn't do with out as you walked through the store. Don't tell me you can just get what you need, you are a LIAR !!
So as you can see minus the last one the total investment is $166.00. There really is no savings unless you plan on doing a large project or you are planing on hacking up a bunch of models for conversions. Now really on the first phase I am not making any money and probably after paper towel, cleaning supplies, and time invested where I could actually be working on something else I am in the red.

The silver lining to this little project is that when I get a little better at it I wont be wasting time modeling combi-weapons, shoulder pads, icons, skulls, spikes, etc...I can just make a mold of these and have them in my bitz box ready to use.

To wrap this up I am about 50/50 on how it goes it is fun to do something new, but if you are looking to save money by making molds give it up. I know you can probably cast a whole marine and save a bunch of money there, but really with the look of most armies now who wants to go back to second edition and have 3/4 of your models with the same pose.

Part 2: Mold Making 101


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