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Molding plastic
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  weaponeer

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Posted: August 29 2010 at 1:36pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

I started to think about the bubble issue as I remembered watching something about that a while back, that humidity can play a factor in that.  not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I also found this video today which was helpful.  it also reminded me that FCG might be made from low melting point alloy's.

The different types of RTV mold rubber available for mold making and casting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRwnMIbHQqA

Low Melting Point Alloys

http://www.rotometals.com/Low-Melting-Alloys-s/21.htm

This is a good video on how to make a simple two-part mold using Urethane.  really good tips can be found here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSH19G_6Yeo

Rubber Shore A Scale

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyAGEf2Uz00

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: August 29 2010 at 4:35pm | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

Nice videos, thanks!  Humidity definitely could be contributing to my bubbles; it has been rainy lately, and I know the one-part urethane glues bubble and cure in the presence of moisture.

I really like the ideas in the two-part mold video.  A mold box built from hotglued acrylic would have perfectly flat sides, custom size, liquidtight, but be easy to disassemble.  The false cope from clay would give you any mold line you like, and let you just push in locking keys or an anti-dribble ring.  Holding the sides closed with sheets of acrylic + rubber bands is also an excellent idea.

For a scale, I'm using this $13 Harbor Freight "pocket" digital scale.  It weighs +-0.1 gram (handy for mL volume conversion) up to 500 grams, and seems way more accurate than measuring volume for viscous gel-like resins. 
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Posted: August 29 2010 at 5:01pm | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

midmichigun wrote:
As noted, the bubbles tend to NOT want to come out past a certain point of viscosity/ cure. I would suggest you play with an "inhibitor" and actually heat the resin/ catalyst. This will be a fine line, but would cause low viscosity= less bubble trapping= perhaps same cure time.

Excellent idea!  It's downright chilly in the shop now, about 60F, which is at the very bottom of the recommended temperature range.   I was wondering why the resin "seems thicker now"!

midmichigun wrote:
Do you know if your catalyst/ resin system has a "super" slow cure? Typically these slow cure catalysts are associated with high strength...

The Freeman 1080 I'm using is the "slow, hard" version.  I don't know how you could possibly degas, pour, and degas again with the faster 3-minute urethanes!

midmichigun wrote:
Your urethane probably develops an "amine blush" that could be removed via solvents. So remember this if you "cast" on top of a "cast". This would be for a highly complex casting.

I'm pretty sure amine blush is specific to epoxies; the chemistry is totally different on urethane, which reacts to atmospheric moisture with annoying bubbles, not an annoying waxy "blush"...

midmichigun wrote:
If you are waiting an entire day for the IPA and vasoline to flash, you could speed it up by putting the parts in a warmer area. Worst case scenario is that any brush marks left in the vasoline will run... as the IPA will evaporate off more rapidly.

For pour #3, I popped the mold into my recycled toaster oven to try to quick-dry the mold release.  Even at 150F, the vaseline seemed to dribble off the exposed surfaces and collect in little dots on the surface.  The demold process was much harder after this, and I tore out a few little bits on the corners of the mold.  I'm going to add the hairspray back into my mold release process to try to keep my mold intact longer.

I'm patient, and don't build guns that fast.  I can wait a day between casts!

midmichigun wrote:
I thought of another trick that I have heard of... try and "paint" some of your mixed formula onto the mold itself... assemble and then finish pouring. Sometimes this will lessen bubbles (if you are getting them on the surface of the part). However, bubbles formed below the surface would still be there!

Yeah, I think my bubbles aren't entrained air, they're forming inside the solution.  But this is a good trick for the mental "toolbox".  Thanks for your help!
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Posted: August 29 2010 at 7:48pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

orions_hammer wrote:
Nice videos, thanks!  Humidity definitely could be contributing to my bubbles; it has been rainy lately, and I know the one-part urethane glues bubble and cure in the presence of moisture.

I really like the ideas in the two-part mold video.  A mold box built from hotglued acrylic would have perfectly flat sides, custom size, liquidtight, but be easy to disassemble.  The false cope from clay would give you any mold line you like, and let you just push in locking keys or an anti-dribble ring.  Holding the sides closed with sheets of acrylic + rubber bands is also an excellent idea.

For a scale, I'm using this $13 Harbor Freight "pocket" digital scale.  It weighs +-0.1 gram (handy for mL volume conversion) up to 500 grams, and seems way more accurate than measuring volume for viscous gel-like resins. 

I really liked the information, and the simple how-to of the mold design is the best I have seen, so I thought I would share the finds for others interested in molding.

There are so many thing I would like to try for molding, I even considered molding my own prosthetics..  maybe I'll give it a try again some time.

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Posted: August 30 2010 at 12:49am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

orions_hammer wrote:


For a scale, I'm using this $13 Harbor Freight "pocket" digital scale.  It weighs +-0.1 gram (handy for mL volume conversion) up to 500 grams, and seems way more accurate than measuring volume for viscous gel-like resins. 

does that scale work well? 

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Posted: August 30 2010 at 7:45am | IP Logged Quote Holloway

weaponeer wrote:
orions_hammer wrote:


For a scale, I'm using this $13 Harbor Freight "pocket" digital scale.  It weighs +-0.1 gram (handy for mL volume conversion) up to 500 grams, and seems way more accurate than measuring volume for viscous gel-like resins. 

does that scale work well? 




I use this model. So far it has been reliable and accurate.
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Posted: August 31 2010 at 2:43am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

I'll be darned--these cast plastic fire control parts actually fire!


I'm quite surprised--the blue fiberglass reinforced Freeman 1080 cast urethane hammer actually survived a dozen dry firings, and then fired off three live rounds no problem!  The disconnector even works.  Here are some video captures.  I've got slow-motion 420fps video of this, but it doesn't really look like slow-motion: that plastic hammer moves *FAST*!  It's only about 8ms from the time my finger pulls the trigger to the time the bolt carrier starts screaming backwards.

T=0ms: Finger pulls trigger, hammer starts zipping forward:


T=2ms: Hammer is blurring toward firing pin.


T=4ms: Hammer slams into firing pin, in turn hitting the primer and firing the round.  Locked breech, so nothing visible happens.


T=6ms: Gas piston slams bolt carrier backward, unlocking bolt and re-cocking hammer.


T=18ms: Spent casing is ejected.  Note there's no magazine, because I don't trust the fire control group in any way.


T=62ms: Bolt carrier is pushed back into battery by recoil spring.  Hammer is held back by disconnector properly.


I honestly did not expect these things to actually work!

I really wasn't feeling very hopeful after my first, unreinforced yellow hammer snapped off at the very first dry fire.  I think dry fires are harder on the hammer, because a live round's primer cushions the firing pin, rather than the hammer just slamming into the back of the locked-up bolt.


Granted, I eventually managed to destroy all the fire control parts except the disconnector, but it took quite a few shots to do so:


The unreinforced yellow parts snapped into pieces virtually immediately--the hammer on the very first shot, and the trigger hook after about three shots.  The fiberglass-reinforced parts lasted way longer, with the hammer lasting 30+ shots, and trigger hook lasting a dozen shots or so.  Looking at the cleavage planes of the parts carefully, *every* failure started at a bubble on the tension side of the part. 

So if I can cure my bubble problems, fatten up the weaker sides of the parts, and possibly add a little more fiberglass to the mix, then I should be able to cast at least reasonably reliable fire control parts!
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Posted: August 31 2010 at 10:45am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

Very well done report.

I figure at a minimum your current mold, and reinforced casted parts are perfect for emergency replacement parts (plus you don't need to worry about rust)

This is the perfect smaller scale testing to work out any issues with the bubbles etc, prior to making an AR Receiver (or other receiver).

I think the way to go is to take a FCG and add clay to it to build it up and greatly beef it up (it's not like weight is an issue), and then cast the thicker parts with the reinforced casting.

If the bubble issue can be worked out, that would take care of the problems

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  dogon1013

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Posted: November 06 2010 at 2:54pm | IP Logged Quote dogon1013

This thread inspired me to do some casting.

I needed a polyurethane buffer for a project at work, and we happen to have a 3D printer that makes prototypes in rigid ABS, so I printed the 2 mold halves, sealed them with some ABS solvent, used some silicone spray as a release, and poured in some 80A polyurethane casting compound that we got from MSC.

It worked out pretty well, though I need a little more time in the vacuum chamber to help degas it. I didn't get any pictures of the first molding, but I plan on doing another one soon.

I know the 3D printer isn't that common yet, but there are services that will print parts for you, and they are fairly durable semi-rigid parts.

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Posted: November 07 2010 at 3:48am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

Awesome!  I'd wondered about casting some recoil buffers in that rubbery urethane--let me know how long yours holds up to real use.  I'll have to try milling up some molds from HDPE or ABS myself too!

I did a few more tests making some lathe gears, and:
  • Hairspray definitely improves the mold release dramatically.  Without hairspray, I'm tearing up even a new mold; with it, parts just pop right out.
  • Even 30% chopped fiber (by weight) works fine.  I'm not actually sure what the upper limit is; presumably there's some point where more fiber (e.g., 99% fiber, 1% resin) makes a weaker part!
  • Smooth-sided music wire doesn't stick inside urethane very well.  I was hoping I could reinforce my FCG parts with wire, but I need to find some textured wire, like a bass guitar string or something equally lumpy.
How easily did the part come out using the silicone spray mold release? 
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Posted: November 09 2010 at 8:16pm | IP Logged Quote dogon1013

silicone spray seemed pretty good. it took some wedgeing to get the mold to release but nothing was sticking.

I molded it again today and used full 29in Hg which seemed to get all the bubbles out. Unfortunatelly I did not use enough urethane , so it will not be a usable part (short shot), but I will see if I can post pictures of the mold and part tomorrow when I de-mold it, it should still look OK.

The original buffer, that had some bubbles, is still holding up.

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Posted: November 11 2010 at 10:20pm | IP Logged Quote gundoctor

I think I have some cans of mold release and know there are different ones for different polymers. If you use silicon molds it is not critical but if you use a poly mold for poly parts the proper release agent is important.
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Posted: November 11 2010 at 11:01pm | IP Logged Quote dogon1013

I printed a new mold. This time I added ejector pins. I just used 1/16" dowel pins as ejectors. I also soaked the mold in the silicon spray overnight so it should be decently slick.

Here are some pix of the original mold

(for some reason this pic only shows up when I preview it....but here is a link to it. )

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/7-pKO9bZ3I30LpuH6hy-kw? feat=directlink

And the new mold

with ejectors

taped and clamped

The setup

 

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Posted: November 11 2010 at 11:17pm | IP Logged Quote dogon1013

gundoctor wrote:
I think I have some cans of mold release and know there are different ones for different polymers. If you use silicon molds it is not critical but if you use a poly mold for poly parts the proper release agent is important.

 

Whats the proper release agent for an ABS mold?

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Posted: April 19 2011 at 12:19am | IP Logged Quote donttellmeicant

i have made up 10 ar -15 lowers molded in black plastic now, with a hardness of d 70 looks like they will work just fine since i had no luck at all with the hdpe now all i need is the rest of the gun . they match my lower part perfectly except  the holes need to be drilled out and that will be easy since i indented all the holes with the clay before molding with transfer punches . thinkin bout sellin a couple so i can buy rest of gun, the mag opening an trigger area is perfect no work needed there either can i sell them as 80 % ers?
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Posted: April 19 2011 at 10:22am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

donttellmeicant wrote:
i have made up 10 ar -15 lowers molded in black plastic now, with a hardness of d 70 looks like they will work just fine since i had no luck at all with the hdpe now all i need is the rest of the gun . they match my lower part perfectly except  the holes need to be drilled out and that will be easy since i indented all the holes with the clay before molding with transfer punches . thinkin bout sellin a couple so i can buy rest of gun, the mag opening an trigger area is perfect no work needed there either can i sell them as 80 % ers?

from the sounds of it, I don't think the ATF would approve of the sale.  but I would have to see photos to be sure.

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Posted: April 19 2011 at 9:09pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Dont,

I was told that Tactical Machining was told to not sell 80% lowers with some of the pin locations.... and that is without the FCG pocket being machined... therefore if you have a pocket for your FCG... you are probably over 80%.

 

As a side note, I am interested in the plastic that you are using. My epoxy lower has a VERY high shore, but it is brittle.... Could you shed some light, on what you used???

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Posted: April 20 2011 at 7:26pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

midmichigun wrote:

Dont,

I was told that Tactical Machining was told to not sell 80% lowers with some of the pin locations.... and that is without the FCG pocket being machined... therefore if you have a pocket for your FCG... you are probably over 80%.

 

As a side note, I am interested in the plastic that you are using. My epoxy lower has a VERY high shore, but it is brittle.... Could you shed some light, on what you used???

I have to agree..  any single dimple or even bonded template is very much on the ATF Club Fed List.  you cannot sell it, plus the unknown structure and how it would react to stress or long term use, is not something someone would want to deal with. if someone gets hurt, it's the mfg they will go after for not testing the components.

now selling the mold's with information on how to do it with testing left up to the user is another topic.

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Posted: April 30 2011 at 9:57pm | IP Logged Quote Snuffer

Hello, folks!

I was a prototype modelmaker for 5 years, running the polymers/casting section, and learned a few things, some of 'em the hard way.

Vacuuming the material isn't the issue in getting the bubbles out of your part, we used a paint pot as a pressure tank and put our filled molds under pressure, 120 psi (approx. 9 atu)

20% glass fiber was optimal when we were making some experimental parts out of West Systems epoxy. Any sharp edges orcorners that could be radiused were to remove any stress risers.

One other issue, do NOT use tin catalysis rubber for your molds, that crap outgasses methanol, we had more problems with it, went over to platinum catalysis silicone rubber, no more problems!

For long sections like magazine wells, make a plastic block to fill the area leaving about 1/4" between the block and the part wall, rremoving the block allows the rubber mold to collapse inward and release from the part. This makes for a MUCH better part!

Oh, and why the name "Snuffer"?  I did time years ago for making silencers, and I will tell you, the BATF does NOT screw around if you get caught--PACK A TOOTHBRUSH!

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Posted: May 15 2011 at 12:03pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

any more work done in this area?
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