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3D Printed Soft Plastic Injection Molds Part 1 – The Basics

3D Printed Soft Plastic Injection Molds Part 1 - The Basics 1


I made this awesome 3d printed injection mold, and I've shot hundreds of baits through it in the past few weeks. I'll show you how you can take your lure designs and turn them into injection mold in this multi-part series. Let's get rolling! 

Let's go

In part one of this series, we're going to cover the 3d printers, the resins, and we're going to touch briefly on how you print these molds. In part 2, we're going to go much deeper into the mold design to show you some of the tips and tricks I've learned during this process. I've spent the past few months printing tons and tons of injection molds. I have made tons and tons of mistakes while doing that. The pile of errors I have is much more extensive than the accumulation of successes over the past few weeks. I've hit a stride of good repeatable results in 3d printed injection molds, and we're here to cover the first part of that, which is what you need to get started.  

3d Mold

Resin 3D Printer

First, of course, you're going to need a resin 3d printer. People have made injection molds from FDM printers, but none of the materials are designed to withstand hot plastisol heat. It concerns me when I see people injecting PLA, PetG or ABS molds because their heat deflection temperature and melting temperature are below the standard temperatures. You inject plastisol at around 320 degrees. They all have a heat deflection temperature of approximately 230. Heat deflection temperature is just a fancy way of saying when the material gets this hot, and there's some pressure against it; it starts to deform or deflect. That's why I strongly recommend 3d resin printers instead. Not only are you going to get way better detail and way better quality, but you can also use a resin that has a heat deflection temperature of 385 degrees which is well above the standard temperatures you're going to inject plastisol. 

3d Printer

So what printer to get? I have an Elegoo Saturn, which you've seen in some of my other videos. It is considered a mid-sized consumer resin 3d printer. A couple of things to keep in mind when you're looking at resin 3d printers; some of the main differences generally revolve around the size of the print volume and the type of screen. My Saturn is considered mid-size. It has a print volume of 192X120X200mm/7.55inX4.72inX7.87in. I can fit just about any mold I want. A few customers come to me with giant molds that I can't print, but it covers most of the basics, six-inch and below molds.

3d Printer

I also have a Creality LD-002H. You can certainly print molds with that. You're going to be somewhat limited in width, but if you want to do single cavity molds or you have small crappie-sized lures, it will work for you. The Saturn retails for $499 on amazon. If you see any higher prices, that's people just trying to scalp them right now because the demand is high and the supply is low. So hold out for that $495 – $499 price range before you buy one. The Creality printer I have, I want to say, is right around $200. It's a superb starter printer too, and again they're both mono screens, which will get you faster print time. The resin we'll be talking about requires longer exposure. You'll want to make sure you're getting a mono screen to prolong the life of your 3d printer. The other thing you can look at on the 3d printer is the large size 3d printers like the Peopoly Phenom and The Phenom XL. I wouldn't strongly suggest if it's your first 3d printer, you avoid those printers. I think the Saturn and the Epax X10 are the sizes that make a lot of sense, even for your first printer. If you go too small, you're going to be disappointed. If you go too big, I think you're going to run into many printing problems that come with the printer's size. The Saturn and the Epax are both in that sweet spot where it's going to be big enough to do just about everything you want to do, and it's not going to cause you too many headaches. The longer that screen is on exposing your resin, the shorter its life will be, so you want to get a mono 3d printer. 

Resin

The Resin

Next, let's talk about the resin. The only resin I can recommend is Siraya Tech Sculpt Resin. Again, its heat deflection temperature is roughly 380-ish degrees which should be well above what you need to shoot your plastisol. It is a tricky resin to print with. It took me a long time to dial in the settings on my printer, so know that you're going to have to spend a little more time with your printer in getting it dialed correctly.

Heat Enclosure

The major downside with the sculpt resin is it does require a heated enclosure or some way to heat the resin to get it up to about 30 degrees celsius before it prints consistently. I had all kinds of problems before putting it into my enclosure to keep that temperature both high and stable. I'll have a link in the description to my enclosure video. It's going to add about $150 to your cost. I'll have another video and blog coming up shortly where I look at a different method of keeping the resin heated. I'm waiting for a part to come in for that build, and we're going to put that on my Creality printer and see if I can get that going with sculpt.

Cleaning Molds

Also, a sculpt is a kind of a bear to clean. I use acetone sculpt to clean it. You don't want to have it immersed in alcohol or acetone or anything for longer than about 30 seconds when you're going through the cleaning process. It tends to break down and get extra gloopy. With acetone, I can dip it in there. It's pretty intense, and it evaporates quickly. I can drop it in there, shake it in there for 30 seconds, pull it out, and it's going to start drying and evaporating immediately. At this point, you might be like saying, “dude, that's way too complicated.” It's not that difficult if you have been pouring soft plastic lures. If you've been doing hard plastic lures with resins, this is all kind of in the same ballpark. It's just a lot of different terminology, so don't let it scare you away.  

Miniature

Printing Molds

Let's talk about the actual process of printing these molds. One of the things that tripped me up when I got into 3d resin printing is that most people who use them use them to print miniatures and models and little sculptures. They have most of the tips and tricks you'll find are around those types of prints, and one of the things you'll see almost right off the bat is don't print on the build plate and hollow out your prints. Yes, you can print a mold hollow, but you're significantly weakening the structure. Remember, when we inject mold these, we're going to smash these together in a vise with some nuts and bolts to get them to close properly.

3d Mold with Bolts

If you make it hollow, you're adding a ton of flex in there. Not to mention, it makes the actual printing process a lot more complicated. You have to add holes throughout the mold to drain all of the resin that will get trapped inside. If you don't, it's just way way too complicated. It's a little bit more resin to print it solid, but you're going to get a much more structurally sound and far better mold if you do print it solid. We're talking like two or three dollars worth of resin extra. 

Build Plate

Build Plates

Next up, you'll hear people say never print directly on the build plates, and you know, if I have a miniature with many delicate parts, absolutely don't print on the build plate, but I have a large solid chunk of resin. If I try to position that off the build plate and put support structure all around it, I'm asking for a print failure. That mold will be very heavy, and those support structures from your slicing software are not really made to hold that large heavy of a chunk. What you want to do is, you want to put it flat on the build plate but not flat on its back on the widest portion. You want to print it flat either on the side edge or the best way to do it, vertically. Now, printing it vertically is the longest way to do it in terms of print time. It produces the absolute best results with the fewest failures. Once I started printing vertically, I could get away with some crazy stuff like this print I pulled off, which I think has five molds on it on my Saturn. The benefit of doing it that way is that time-wise, it is the same amount of time to print that big giant batch of molds to print one of the tallest molds on that plate. The downside to printing is that your vat cannot hold that much resin, so I got up every three hours to top off the resin vat while printing, which was a little annoying. Don't go that far, but you can print three, four, or five smaller molds at a time in the same amount of time it takes you to print one mold, and that is awesome.

Plate Scrape

One final tip on printing directly to the build plate when you're designing your mold, you'll want to make a chamfer angled edge around all of the sides of the mold. In whatever 3d modeling program you're using, that will help you get it off the build plate later.  

When part two is done, you'll see it in my next blog. In the meantime, check out my other blogs. Take care and tight lines.

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How to Catch Carp in Brays Bayou

How to Catch Carp in Brays Bayou 2


Here is a step-by-step guide on how to catch carp in Brays Bayou.

1. Grab some Ned Rig hooks.

Catch carp Ned Riggs

2. Pick up some wonder bread.

Catch Carp Bread

3. Cut a quarter piece of bread for the hook.

Catch carp bread

4. Fold the bread on the hook and smash it to attach. 

Catch Carp hook

5. Go to Brays Bayou and cast a line.

Catch Carp casting

6. Catch a carp.

Catch carp

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3d Printed Fishing Lure Molds – Making Silicone Molds

3d Printed Fishing Lure Molds - Making Silicone Molds - youtube


 

Today we are going to make a couple of swimbait designs that I've created. We're going to make molds out of them with silicone and 3d printed molds. Making a mold master and then pouring silicone over the top of it to create an excellent open-pore mold is one of the best ways to develop lures with your 3D printer. Follow my journey to start!

Gulf Stream Outdoors

The Design Mold

First, let's start with the design. I'm not going to walk you through the whole procedure with fusion 360. I'm going to be doing a whole series of tutorial videos coming soon on lure design and mold design of fusion 360. Be on the lookout and subscribe to my blogs or videos to stay up to date on my latest content.

As you are aware, I gave away all of my fishing lures recently. One of the lures that I was most concerned about replacing is the down south lure burner shad. I crush fish with this lure in the spring and the summertime along the gulf coast. It's a small three and a quarter inch swimbait. I knew right away that I needed to get a replacement because when the fishing turns on in the spring, I will be throwing this design all the time. I came up with two very similar designs. I call the first one little butt swim because its tail looks like a small butt, and the other one, I call burn before fishing shad (or the BBFS).

3d Printed Fishing Lure Molds - Making Silicone Molds 3

3d Mold

As you can see, here is the burn before fishing shad in Fusion 360. I create a floor and wall around the side. To complete the mold master, I can pour the silicone directly when I want to make the mold. It's just that simple. You can make as many copies of the lure as you wish. This process will make the cavities in your mold, build a floor and build the walls. I'm using my sidewinder X1 for the FDN prints. I recently purchased this FDN printer. and always make sure to review the product I am using. Be on the lookout for an upcoming review soon.

I like to get a good overview of the printer to see how it's working by using the fine setting to get it as high detail as possible. This product did a pretty great job. I also decided to print out just the floor with the lures on my resin printer. This printer is my LU Saturn. I wanted to see how it compares to the FDM prints. I didn't print out the walls here because it would not be a fair use of my time. If I print them flat, it will create a giant suction cup and not print well. Another option to print this way would be to print virtually. Unfortunately, that process would take 20 plus hours. I printed this on the build plate, and it took roughly two hours. I then went back and printed the wall for the outside on the FDM printer to snap it in place. This process makes it super easy.

3d Printed Fishing Lure Molds - Making Silicone Molds 4

Now that you have one of your bold masters all printed out, the next thing you probably want to do is put a thin coat of paint epoxy. It's best to use Paint epoxy, or in my case, I'm going to use polyacrylic. I'm using this because my friend Adam said he used it with some success, and I already have some laying around in the garage. I ended up doing two separate coats. Afterward, I let it dry a few hours in between. For the best use, follow the directions on the can.

Prepping for the Pour

In my opinion, It came out pretty well. I still have ridges, and I could have probably kept going with some more coats. This stuff is relatively thin, but it didn't matter to have a few little lines on there at the end of the day. You will need to do a few touch-ups. I got a few little holes in there, either from air bubbles or from things floating around in my vat. Patching these up is straightforward. You take some of the resin that you're already using in your 3d printer and dab the holes with it. I also use a little needle and hit it with a UV light source. In this case, I'm using a UV flashlight. It hardens it up just like if it were in the printer and creates a patch.

3d Printing Patch Up

Next up, we're going to prep the silicone. One thing to keep in mind, if you're going to pour silicone over a resin 3d print, you may want to make sure it is a tin cure silicone as opposed to a platinum cure silicone. Platinum cure silicone does not cure when it comes into contact with the resin from a 3d resin printer. The result will end up being a big gloopy mess. Make sure to use tin cure silicone all the way. Now, we need to estimate how much silicone we'll need. I typically fill up my molds with water, dump them all into a container, and get my silicone volume from this method. it's not an exact science. I always like to think of the difference between water volume and silicone volume, so I can still bump it up. In this case, I got 22 ounces. I decided on pouring 24 ounces of silicone, which ended up being just about perfect. Silicone tends to stick, so I'm looking at ways to avoid this. I always bump it up and go on the high side.

3d Mold Water Measure

The Pour

We're ready to pour. I'm going to get my UMU 25 out. This silicone is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. One, it's pretty forgiving on the mix. It mixes at a straightforward one-to-one ratio by volume, and it cures pretty quickly. Typically, it takes 25 minutes of cure time or 75 minutes when it's exposed to air. It's effortless to work with. I pour it from a corner and allow it to fill up. It will roll over well and will help prevent air bubbles from forming. You can also make sure you have a very, very thin stream coming out of the cup you are using that'll break up some of those more giant air bubbles as well. You could put it in a vacuum chamber. Again, this is a quick and dirty mold. For me, it's a prototype. I don't even know if these will work, so I'm not too hung up on air at this point.

3d Printing Silicone

After a couple of hours, I go to de-mold them. The top, exposed to the air, is nice and firm, but the underside is still very soft. The mold is airtight, so not a lot of air is penetrating here. You want to be careful when you're de-molding here to make sure you don't add too much stress and get deformation in your molds. I pop it out. For this one, I kind of bent one a little bit too much, and ended up getting a tail a little bit wider than another one. Next, I let them cure again for four hours, as recommended by the package. At this point, it's about nine o'clock at night. I leave them overnight, and I come back the next morning, and they are good to go. Nice and solid, very tight. No issues whatsoever with my molds. I am super stoked!

3d Wet Molds

Overnight Dry molds

Idiot Moves

Now it's time to talk about my big idiot moves. I make a lot of big idiot moves, but this one, I decided to try to do a three-color pour immediately out of the bat after never pouring these molds before, and I was trying to replicate the chicken of the sea color. The first thing I do is I pour my chartreuse. I go ahead and pour the whole mold chartreuse. I come back in, and I clip the tails off and de-mold the bodies. So far, it's looking pretty good. Then, I come in with my bottom layer. The DSL looks like this bottom layer is clear plastic with a ton of silver flake in it. I decided to go with what I call disco monk, which is interference violet, a black flake, one drop of black you could use, and white. It would brighten it up a little bit.

Disco Monk Silicone

In this case, I went black, and it darkens it up a little bit, gets a little more purple coming out, disco holographic. Flake all those things together and make my cake on monkey's milk, which I call disco monkey because it has a half flake. It's like disco, bro. I'll get that poured in for the bellies. At this point, I'm not feeling terrific because I'm heating my top color, and it's taking a long time. I have one tiny microwave that takes about three and a half minutes to heat even six ounces of plastic. My topcoat will be some pearlex green mica powder, dark melon dead on plastics color and some red flake, and a little bit of black to darken it up.

Let's take a look at the results. I think they came out pretty good. You can see a few artifacts from the 3d print. A few lines here and there, but overall, I'm super happy with how the mold came out. Unfortunately, when I went to test these lures, they swim like absolute garbage, especially the little butt lure there. I think its body is way too big. When I go swimming, it just kind of twirls like this. It looks like garbage, so I'm back to the drawing board on that one. The BBFS was okay. I think my body is still a little small. When I put it on the jig head I was using, it blew up big, and the tail doesn't have the great action I'm looking for in a lure.

3d Mold Result

I think that one is closer to saving than the little butt swim, so I'm going to do a few more revisions of that. The thing I learned during this process is that I shouldn't have printed a six-five six cavity mold when I don't even know the lures are working. I've gone back to the drawing board on the BBFS, and I'm going to print a single cavity mold for my next revision of this pour. If it works, and then I'll expand it out to a six cavity mold. There's no reason to make a six cavity mold of a lure if you don't even know. Stay tuned. I'll continue to revise the BBFS. We'll show you the next version in a video coming out shortly.

Finally, If you want these models as soon as I have them perfected,  I'm going to be releasing them to my mailing list. You can click that link below to join my mailing list and get these for free if you found this video and blog at all useful. I'll see you guys again soon!

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Live Giveaway Drawing!

Live Giveaway Drawing! 5


What's up everyone, Welcome to the Live Drawing Giveaway! Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing.  27 lucky winners will be receiving a full box of lures. Several of you did enter more than once, which is excellent, and I appreciate the enthusiasm. As a reminder, this Giveaway only allows for one winner per prize, so if your name is selected more than once, you will only be receiving one box.

The Giveaway!

Giveaway Drawing

Let's get to it. My chosen recycled drawing bucket for this Giveaway was previously protein powder. I made sure to add everyone's name and email address into the drawing bucket. It took me about an hour, but it was all worth it. Each name selected will be pulled into a separate box. Again, Winners will be receiving a full package of lures. There are 27 boxes with a variety of lures I have purchased at the Houston Tackle Show. Once winners have pulled, I will be sending a follow-up email. Winners should reply to the email with their address to receive their prize.
I will start sending boxes on Saturday.

Our Winners

Giveaway Winner

Eloy Garcia
Daniel Fitzgerald
Joana Garcia
Farhan Syed
Chris Smith aka Adventure Bro
Chandler Farley
Jonnie Hartling
Jimmy D
Addison Barron
Joe Vinsik
Scott Machold
Aaron Grimes
John Fasbender
Carlos Paz
Dante Smith
Joe Aitken
Adam Hagan
Jon Parkoff
Kolton Spinn
Guy Kelly
Donna Wallace
DJ Stone
Anthony Turner
Michael Riddle
Caleb Crung
Nelson Lourinho
David Henriks

No Hard Feelings

For those who only subscribed to enter the drawing, you can unsubscribe directly on the email I send out. If you'd like to continue to receive emails, you can expect emails about new blog posts, the latest videos, lure designs. Overall, your feedback is my guide in creating the most relevant content for 3d printing, lure design, and anything associated.

New Lures

Largest Lure

Finally, here are a few examples of lure prototypes I have been busy working on lately. First up, the giant wake bate. This a two parts design with an open cavity for beads. I am still deciding if the split design will work but think of this design as a big boy for the big boys. I generally throw wake baits in the spring, early summer, or fishing redfish in the flats.

Second, I have a couple of twitch baits, The first is the flat slim, and the other is pretty much its naked brother. I also have swimbaits. Since I decided only to use the lures I have made this year, I needed a quick and dirty paddle tail. Next is a swimbait with a ball tail. As you can tell, it's an awkward name but a great design. I have been producing a lot of lures with ball ends. You can expect these to be pouring in soon.

Thirdly, as fun, as it would be to collab with my local grocery store HEB on their new lure “Ziploc bags,” I am planning to throw these standard angling ai molds. These are angling ai with a 6-inch bait in color dark grey-blue pearlescence. I also have a smaller version in the white shimmer. I typically use these in the winter. Next, I have shrimps, and a bait that I created that did not shoot very well. It's an insane creation with flashing and will be rigged on a ned head. Visually it is like a ned but with a ned fluke-style tail with, again, balls. The hope is when I go after speckled trout and redfish; the fish think it's a dying fish. There's no telling what the bass will think it is, but hopefully, they will find it tasty. At long last, I designed a swimbait that is called the fat pudge. This bait is short and fat but with a hook slot. You can expect new videos about all these lures coming soon. I will be going over the design process and how to 3d print the molds.

Molds

New Molds

Of all the molds I have created, I have successfully designed the largest one to date. I am still tuning the process, but I have to put it in about 50,000 clamps for the three cavity ned rig I printed on my 3d printer to shoot the injection mold. Generally, I use the molds by bolting the two parts together like most standard aluminum molds and then clamp to reduce any leaks. Lastly, I am doing more of a single cavity single shot mold. I typically use the style when creating the pudge swimmer. Shifting my style from multiple cavity molds to single reduces the time and process. Right now, this mold makes the clamping easy and only takes about an hour to print. It also makes shooting even more efficient.

That's all for now. Thank you again to everyone who participated in this Live Giveaway Drawing. Again, all winners should be receiving an email. For more content, be sure to check out my other blogs.