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Molding plastic
Weaponeer Forums : Casting

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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 11 2008 at 11:05pm | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

Wow what a flashback, that stuff looks just like what we put in Stinger launch motors. Can't remember what the sure D was, it was a long time ago .

A few things come to mind from back then....

All of our permenent molds were metal with pins for repeatability on alignment.

Some resins can get pretty hot when curing in large batches (to the point of smoking).

When we needed air removed it was vacuumed before pouring and poured in one continuous pour or injected with a syringe.

I recall there was a fiber imbedded in resin that would "lay down" before curing but not settle to the bottom, increasing linear strength. We didn't have any I just remember reading about it somewhere.

I liked my work there but not the company and Fourth of July was fun .

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 12:52am | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Bikergunnut,

What you describe is classic "exotherm". It is pretty cool to watch the resins smoke from how much heat they are producing. This is how they cure and harden. Conversely, if you chill them to much, the curing takes much longer. Remember the "rule", for every 10degrees, you double the chemical reaction.

The other flip side in a chemical reaction is the "endotherm". These are the reactions that need heat to "kick" over. Adjusting your heat in both cases allows maximum molecule chain linking.

Mr. Weaponeer, I didn't know you had wondered about casting parts. I have been lurking at other sites, and finally "crossed over" within the past two years. You guys seem real friendly and willing to dabble in cool things. The other place had something to prove...judging by their "experts" attitudes. They were very radical on the "End is Near" stuff also.

As was pointed out casting is great for stocks, grips... etc. The crown jewel would be casting receivers. Hence my goal on the AR lower. However, looking at how cheap they have gotten, it is almost difficult to justify making your own, especially with the prices of the uppers being so high. Eventually that may become the "controlled part".

You may hear from me midweek depending on if I can find: 1. My lower mold. 2. Casting resin with short strand fiber. Alas I only have heavy weight glass cloth left over from the good old days, however I may chop some of it up to get us on the road. 3. I don't know about a vacuum chamber though. That will be a hard thing to come up with quickly (remember its AK building month and I would like to finish my GEW 1888). I was thinking about taking a 5gallon bucket and attaching a hose barb. I have a faulty vacuum pump, but it should suck down at least a few atmosheres (atms). I prefer a glass or clear plastic lid so I can see any foaming going on with my casting material. It takes alot of guess work out of things. You should keep your chamber as small as possible. You don't want to take a week to pump it out, to get the air out of your resin. However, you don't want to limit the size of the part you are casting.

As an example would be a rifle stock. I would pick an end (probably the narrow) to serve as my vent and pour hole. So you would need a tall chamber for that. I figure maximum size to play with would be an AR or AK stock.

I agree that metal forms are the best. However, they are only great for simple parts. If cleaned up and lubed, they give an excellent surface finish and have an incredible life span. The more complex the softer the mold should be (to ease removal). To further clarify... metal has great rigidity but it doesn't bend well to pull around corners in your part. With my AR, the large screw threads were completely intact. All I had to do was spin on the recoil tube and it was done. Also, if you have limited metal working tools, things become more difficult. I started down the road of casting because I had lost access to my machine shop (at college) and couldn't complete my AR 15 castings. Aside from the resin smell, the apartment neighbors didn't know what I was doing.

That being said, I would love to burn out a complete AK/ AR FCG in stainless and cast my components.

I remember when the Glocks were coming out, people were talking about all the plastics, synthetics and composites. There was a general feeling that guns would shortly be made of all plastic/ ceramic. Even the barrels. I would love to find some of that ceramic that people were talking about. I think there was even a movie where Clint Eastwood (Secret Service) is tracking a dirtbag, and the guy was making gun parts from molds on his kitchen table. This idea is not new.

To me, it is simple to get the knowledge to make molds. A little trial and error and you are an expert (but keep your first casts VERY simple) Once again I am looking for a good resin/ ceramic that can be cast for a lower receiver or have some sort of tensile/ compressive strength. Nobody wants a brittle gun part.

It should be possible to tint or color a resin that you are casting. This would be great for scratches. No bare metal to deal with.

If anyone has photos of laying up fiberglass or carbon fiber please share. This would be great instruction on creating rifle stocks/ grips for the novice. I think an AK or AR would be slick with a carbon fiber stock. I believe I have seen the front hand guard as carbon fiber...

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  weaponeer

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 1:12am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

The members here are pretty level headed without the tinfoil hats... I post a little commentary to keep people focused and on track, and reminding them that now is a good time to buy receivers and such, but I'm not into the survivalist run for the hills the end is near attitude.  You will also notice there is little to no moderation here (our members don't need it).

everyone here is more than willing to learn something new (or old), and sharing is what makes the members here special.

Back on topic...  There was a guy making ceramic AR15 barrels, problem was they were more then expensive!!!

with the price of aluminum and steels it's time to move towards plastics, and composites when ever possible.  We will always need steel in the home workshop, but in many many cases plastics could replace many of the things we use today.

A good example is we use a lot of AR and AK grips for our projects, but we could be making out own.  I have a PPSH41 pistol that needs some plastic design work as well.

I really like the idea of casting parts! (steel, aluminum, plastic..  you name it)

This is the direction we need to go in, and I would like to see several threads devoted to the process.

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 1:12am | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Ok guys and gals. This is my last decent photo. The rest are junk. You can almost clearly see the FCG pin holes and you can see the accurate contours of the original lower. Please note the complete threaded hole for the hand grip screw. As usual, you can see some of those dang bubbles in the mag well region. It takes along time for the little bubbles to travel up a column of resin. Its worse with cold resin so keep it warm. In practice the FCG region was actually pretty tough. If you pushed, you could get it to bend. However, the mag well was so thin, it was very brittle. I didn't want to test the hinge or the recoil buffer/ tube since it was my only example. However, as with someones wood lower, I don't think it would hold up with help. People were pretty shocked by the casting. I just consider it POC (Proof of Concept).

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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 1:15am | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

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  weaponeer

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 1:26am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

The funny thing is it's a good price...
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Posted: November 12 2008 at 3:53am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

from time to time I research future weapon designs (mainly looks only), and the funny thing is most of the more high tech designs come from video games.

A good example:

when looking for something unique, or an new design, don't forget to check out some of the more creative people around the net, rather than just past and present designs.  you may find that it sparks a few ideas, and with plastics..  nearly anything is possible in regards to shape.

 

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  dcorb

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 7:06am | IP Logged Quote dcorb

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  Inabadhood

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 10:19am | IP Logged Quote Inabadhood

IIRC, they are another iteration of Hesse Arms.

Caveat Emptor. 

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  weaponeer

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 3:33pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

Inabadhood wrote:

IIRC, they are another iteration of Hesse Arms.

Caveat Emptor. 

I noticed that....  anyone but them and I would be interested.  but it's a good idea on how that might be made (as well as other parts)

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  gundoctor

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 10:17pm | IP Logged Quote gundoctor

Well, I guess several of us are playing with the same ideas, both with sheet metal bending and with composite parts.

My working hypothesis is to build up parts by laminating the kevlar, incorporating aluminum  within the layers where strength or threads are needed.   I played with this a little but need to work on my technique and approach.

My other thought is to build an injection system that utilized a shop press for power.   This would require rigid molds and some type of chopped fiber that could be injected.  My thought was to make the mold with "air holes" at the top of the mold that could be closed once the injection evacuated the air from the mold.  I also like the idea of applying a vaccum to the mold to remove the air before injecting.

Anyone with ideas on a good resin / fiber for injecting let me know.

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 11:09pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If there is some interest in other aspects of plastic forming, here is an interesting article on Vacuum Forming. Most of the stuff I have seen has been cheap plastic parts (not durable). However, to keep the mental wheels spinning....

http://www.build-stuff.com/1001plans_hobby_vac.htm

Perhaps this would be a way to create more complex molds.

dcorb and Mr. Weaponeer,

Yes, the future is here. Good catch on the aramid lower receiver. I am following the trail. However, the mention of Vulcan/ Hesse sends shivers up my spine....

Gundoctor,

You are correct on the injection molding aspect of this build scenario. Especially as you move up in viscosity range of your resins/ plastics. Some fluid properties involve something called: thixotropy. Basically, if you shear it, it will move, but if you don't shear it, it sticks. This would be the case for household wall paints. Onless you overload it, the paint sticks. But you take your brush, and you "shear" it on. Otherwise, if paint didn't have a thixotropic nature, it would run readily off your wall. Another example is: toothpaste. This nature can make "casting" a nightmare, hence the profound need for injection molding/ thermoset plastics.

Anyways, I am looking into carbon/ aramid reinforced epoxy. As is noted, aramid doesn't like to be worked. You end up with alot of fuzz if you sand it. So it does lend itself to casting (or injection molding). One type of reinforced epoxy had a low tensile strength that I found, so the quest continues. So far, I see alot of discussion on aramid reinforced epoxy, but no US dealers. Give me a shout if anyone finds one. I found a web page that talked about aramid being very hydroscopic. Which means literally, "water loving". However, they pointed out that it could be stabilized.

I do have an oven at home for any plastics that require an "endothermic" reaction.

One thing to keep in mind when talking about the plastics/ resins and molds. We need to be simple on our technique. Onless some of us has a full tool and die shop, making dies can be a challenge.

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  dcorb

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 9:40am | IP Logged Quote dcorb

The making dies thing is what scared me off.

I found this a few weeks ago and it gave me the idea to start this thread.

http://www.instructables.com/id/SN7YC3DFIV129X5/

I was not interested in buying the machine, more interested in scratch building one. But the die/mold thing discouraged me.

 

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 9:46am | IP Logged Quote dcorb

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 1:36pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

dcorb,

Now thats a new one on me. I learned something today! I assumed that it would be more technical due to what I had been told, but doing a basic thing looks/ seems simple. After some "thunking" it looks very doable.

Still looking for help from someone on leads for aramid/ carbon fiber reinforced epoxy for "cold casting".

As a side thought, when doing autobody I used a cool product known as "Tiger Hair". Thats just a trade name, since everybody makes a similar product. Check this out... it was a VERY thick fiberglass reinforced.... almost paste. When you pulled it out of the can you could see that unlike bondo, it had a fiber content. Sanding and working was ok. I believe it was a short strand type of product (fiber glass length). I don't remember if there was a "long strand" version of the product. Under pressure this stuff would flow. Pot life wasn't long due to the catalyst. You had similar time with Bondo.

Only concern (don't have a can sitting in front of me up here) is whether it has Talc. See, Bondo has a huge Talc content making it pretty hydroscopic and weak. Water, cold.... crumble. Tiger Hair had strands to make it strong. Anybody have a feel for this product (water resistance?). I have seen it used to build up car panels. However, it is heavy and not the best for THAT much load bearing strength.

If I can get around to examining the dcorbs injection machine and see about making a reasonable mold... this may be a ticket.

I noticed that he suggested using PTFE and PET. Might be ok for handles, stocks.

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Posted: November 15 2008 at 6:56pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As discussed, I was going to post pictures of the mold that I used. Also, I guess my memory wasn't that great! I had cast another receiver. This material seems tougher, and less bubbles. Follow the pictures!

The first pic is of the "assembled" molds. While it lines up on one end, it is off on the other end. I don't remember why I did that. Oops. Oh, please disregard dust. Notice that I used a cardboard box as the mold to hold the mold together. You can see that I cast the receiver upside down, with the trigger guard "legs" acting as vent/ fill. The hope was to "overfill" the mold in case there was settling.

Here you see the male/ female mold. Notice the mag well and the buttstock thread. The trick is to make sure everything lines up. Due to the details, I feel that perhaps next time it would be better to make a mold with less details, and do a little more machining. It sucks if things don't line up. Better to machine more to get precise details that to have "warped" holes. While it doesn't appear to be a great big deal, other photos will demo something interesting.

This last photo is a better "internal" picture of the molds. You can clearly see everything. Pour and go.

You will notice on my third set of pictures, the need for better "locating" pins/ teeth. I figured that I would be safe with how I lined it up, but I later found out different.



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Posted: November 15 2008 at 11:26pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here is the next set of pics as promised. As I had mentioned earlier, apparently I had cast a second receiver with improved bubble control 10 years ago and forgot about it. While receiver #1 was quite brittle, I think that the West System Epoxy I used the next time worked out better. With some minor filing to the locating face, I was able spin on a CAR 4position buttstock from Centerfire. The mag was leftover from purchases made in 1998. It is a pretty useless US Mags clip. However, for fitment, works great. The buttstock is fully extended.

 

Note on the next photo the level of detail inherent in the casting. As mentioned earlier, any donor markings (maker and SN) should be filled. You will see that everything transfers quite well.

As can be seen from this closeup, the holes need final finishing. Also, a minor repair is needed where I ran out of resin when I cast the unit. The fill ended up being lower than anticipated (when the air bubbles left the liquid).

The next photo shows where I screwed the 4position stock into the receiver.

Note several critiques on this photo. Due to my lack of "teeth" it is sometimes difficult to get perfect alignment of the two part mold. The upper part of the mold (where the buttstock screws in, is advanced ever so slightly. Some filing would fix this. Also, please note the "locking plate" that came with the buttstock. For improved strength retention, it should be possible to actually epoxy this in place. This would enhance the strength of this area. If epoxy would also be applied to the threads, the area would be hard to break. If you look in the general area, you will note the seam running horizontal in the photo. This is actually part of the misalignment that I mentioned earlier. It has no structureal problems however since it isn't a crack.

I prefer to NOT glue the buttstock in place. I like easy maintenance of all my equipment. However, I generally don't strip down my AR to the buttstock/ buffer. Before I glue it in place, I would rather think it through.

If I enhance the buttstock thread/ plate and the hinge, it may be possible to actually fire the unit. Next set of photos and the continuation of this thread may include this. As to the FCG and other "pins", it may be important to create a few bushings to keep wear down. Remember that increasing the size of pins, will help locate the force over a greater area. In an earlier part of the post I had mentioned that I thought it would be a good idea to increase the thickness of the magwell and a few other areas. Perhaps this receiver may receive the "upgrade". While it won't be exactly mil-spec, the original components for an AR would fit up. And it would have the outline of an AR. While I prefer a "uni-cast" type setup, due to stress it may be important to cast or glue metal components into the design, given a sort of hybrid design.

The weight currently is incredible. The US Mag is around 4oz, the buttstock (no buffer or spring) is 10oz, and the plastic receiver is around 4oz. The spring and buffer is an additional 5 oz.  I currently don't have a spare FCG or receiver for additional weight comparison.



Edited by midmichigun
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  gundoctor

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 10:20am | IP Logged Quote gundoctor

I found these pourable polyurethane resins and am trying to learn enough to order one and try.

http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/CastingMaterials/URETHANES/ rigidurethane.htm

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 10:58am | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Gundoctor,

Good to see someone has an interest in whats going on! 

Aluminalite is a good product. As is noted, it can be machined. While this doesn't seem important, you don't want to have to clean up your parts and have them break. I can't say they are super "tough" materials, but they are a step above other casting materials. I tested this product (tan color) for a little while and found it was very enjoyable to use. One thing to note is the comments about bubbles, since in a cold cast you don't have alot of pressure (to force out air) being able to allow your stuff to settle out is a huge advantabe.

As you can see, I was able to cast a receiver... whether it functions or not.... well.. I will find out later. As you know, I am very concerned about its strength/ brittleness. The next question about casting would be interal parts. Disconnectors, hammers, strikers, triggers. As with a receiver, brittleness/ hardness and strength are a concern. My earlier post commented on how light the receiver was. Remember that when building a  FCG, there is a fine line on weight. While it "speeds" lock time with lighter components, it also impacts your FORCE. Remember F=ma where m = MASS and a = acceleration. With some greater acceleration due to less mass, you will still need a minimum FORCE to impact your firing pin. Since each equation cuts your readership in half, I will stop there.

Keep chugging and thinking away guys and gals!

Optimistic x 1
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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 11:19am | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

http://www.alumilite.com/

Lots of info here .

 

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