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3D Printed Resin Fishing Lure Mold vs CNC Fishing Lure Mold

3D Printed Resin Fishing Lure Mold vs CNC Fishing Lure Mold 1

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for for quite some time. The same exact lure molds- CNC aluminum mold versus a 3D printed resin. Let’s check it out.

Okay guys, real quick you saw those two lures I had. One had a Ned head on it and one had a jib head on it. There’s some interesting caveats here I want to talk about. Let’s talk about how I had this CNC mold produced using a company called Protolabs which is like a big CNC machine in the sky. You upload your files in a format they support (I use the step formats I don’t know if that makes a difference since I don’t really know what I’m doing). They give you a quote, you click send and it goes off and gets printed. No one probably actually touches it, it’s most likely all machine made.

CNC and 3D resin lure mold side by side Let’s talk about production time really quick. From Protolab, from the moment I uploaded my file until I received the finished product was about three weeks. I chose the super slow delivery option because it was the cheapest. If I would have picked the fastest option that would have run me about $1800 for this mold. Choosing the slower option was almost less than half of that at around $700. Now it takes me about 10 hours to print the fiddlefin mold, so obviously it’s faster to print than it is to get it from Protolab. I’m no CNC expert, but I’m guessing if you had a CNC machine you would probably CNC this mold. Again, lots of variables, but with the right equipment and the right machine you can have it within about an hour I would say so it should go quickly.

So I’ve had some of my previous design turned into CNC molds for some of my lure design customers at are big production molds that are made in those giant factories. When you go through that process, you work with a CAM operator or a mold designer and you typically send them your master and then they create the mold around it. Typically, those people are obviously very experienced in doing this and they’ve done it at least a few times now so you’re not going to get any mistakes. Well people make mistakes, but they’re still pros. With Protolab, they’ve got no idea what you’re even trying to do, they’re just going to print exactly what you send them.

So in my case, I made the mistake of forgetting to add venting to this mold which is kind of a big mistake. But the good thing is I made this mistake on both my resin mold and my aluminum mold and I don’t think it impacted the results really at all from what I can see. I only bring that up because if you want to use Protolab you absolutely have to know what you’re doing and that’s a big thing to keep in mind. No one is there to hold your hand. So I want to send my fiddlefin lure mold because it’s one I’ve shot and used before, I know it works and I’m really comfortable with the results of this mold. I really want to see how much of a difference it would be between the over $700 I spent at a Protolab versus the $16 it cost me to produce this mold in the 3D printer.

shooting resin into lure mold

I was super pumped when I unpackaged this thing, I wanted to get shooting right away so I just grabbed some re-melt plastic that I had. This is my root beer gold flake which is some super copper powder, a little bit of black and some gold flakes. I threw that in the microwave which got a little too hot which you’ll see in the denting coming up in a minute. Then I shot it right away and I was not expecting this to work because I didn’t have any venting but I was kind of shocked that it did. I left the bolts a little loose and everything shot pretty fine, it got a few air bubbles here and there but both the CNC and the resin mold shot just fine with no major issues.

So the moment of truth comes and I crack them both open. The CNC mold looks like a CNC mold, obviously it’s shiny. When I crack open the resin mold it obviously looks like a resin mold which isn’t very shiny it’s kind of dull in spots. That’s really what it comes down to which is the resolution, if you will. When you’re CNCing thing you get much finer detail and finish on the surface than the resin mold. When it comes to the resin mold you’re really looking at about .05 millimeters which is 50 nanometers which is roughly the size of a pixel. I think different prinets are 50, some are 45, but you’re in that relative range. You’re going to get some little stepping in there which leads to that duller finish.

finished CNC aluminum lure mold

Fresh out of the mold, they are the exact same size and shape. I have random denting from shooting it too hot in both of them so there’s really no difference in performance other than shiny versus not shiny. What about when we throw in a bag with some worm oil, how many differences show up? Honestly, you can kind of see a difference if you knew what you were looking for but for throwing all of these in a bag with some worm oil and you didn’t know what to look for you wouldn’t notice the difference. The footage I showed you earlier was the molds after they were sitting in the bag for a while and I took them off shot with my macro lens really up close and you can really only see the differences there.

Now here’s the big question- is shiny worth $680? I don’t know, that’s a really tough question. Now aluminum will last a little bit longer, if I drop aluminum on the floor it’s not going to break. If I drop my 3D printed resin mold it could break. Let’s round up the cost of my resin mold to about $20 to account for printer time, electricity, my make up for these videos, just all kind of stuff. I can print 35 of these molds before I hit the cost of a single aluminum mold.

lure molds side by side

o all these issues you could potentially have with the resin molds are in terms of durability and aluminum maybe cools a little faster than resin which I plan on testing here soon. I could literally have my entire workbench stacked with 35 of these resin lure molds for the same cost of having only one aluminum mold. I think that counteracts any of those issues so it really comes down to shiny versus shiny and if you think it’s worth $680, go for it.

Be sure to subscribe to my channel because next up, we’re going to use a few different coats on these resin molds to see just how shiny we can get it. But like I said, other than the shine they are the same. There’s no difference in dimension, sizes, swim, nothing. They’re exactly the same. If you want the full story on the fiddle fin click right here. Remember to follow along by subscribing as we continue to make shiny resin molds.


Take care- tight lines