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Metal Molds -- How To


#1

There is some fairly expensive equipment advertised on the Shor
International Jewelry website that claims making “Metal Molds” is
easy but time consuming with their equipment. The product is
advertised as “Shor Lok-Blok Metal Mold Making”.

The “System” is too expensive for me to buy without understanding
more about the process, time required, and other factors involved.

I’m hoping that in the vast experience of this group someone may
have used or is familiar with the system.

I would also be interested in purchasing a used system if one were
available. Or, where I can find additional Are there
other methods to make metal molds in a home / hobby environment that
someone has experience working with?

RLW


#2
The "System" is too expensive for me to buy without understanding
more about the process, time required, and other factors involved. 

So then, just why is it that you don’t wish to call the phone number
prominantly listed all over the Shor web site? They offer very good
phone support, and no doubt would be happy to fully explain their
system or answer your questions, if you just take the time to call
them. it’s their system, after all. Who better to explain it to you.
And I’ll bet if you just ask them, they’ll send you the instructions…

Metal molds, for what it’s worth, are time consuming no matter who’s
mold frame you use, simply because you are seperately making each
half or piece of the mold, unlike rubber molds where you vulcanize or
pour the whole thing at once, and then just cut it apart.


#3
So then, just why is it that you don't wish to call the phone
number prominantly listed all over the Shor web site? 

Simple answer multi part. I did call and request the instructions
and was told they were proprietary, unless you buy the system.

I didn’t think much about that until later and I called back and
asked again and got the same answer, along with the comment that the
value of the system was in the instructions. I did ask for an
explaination and did get general answer about the what the process
entailed but only in general terms.

Another element of the puzzle is that the mold frames are actually
made by Casteldo and they unaware of the ability to use them to make
metal molds and could not elaborate on the process.

I think it is strange that this is the way they operate but – oh
well – that’s why I’m trying my best to find an alternative way to
understand the process. As you already know many of us find
alternative ways to build our own equipment but only if it is cost
effective. I want the ability to research and select my options.

Oh, BTW I also posted a request for info earlier this year

[Orchid] How To Make A Metal Mold
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/how-to-make-a-metal-mold

and, since then have done extensive web searches on the processes to
make homemade metal molds. There just ain’t much out there.

Regards All
Ron Wade


#4
Simple answer multi part. I did call and request the instructions
and was told they were proprietary, unless you buy the system. 

Well, I’m surprised at that. My own experiences with SHOR would not
have led me to expect that.

So if they’re being jerks, why not play their game.

Call, and say you’ve got one of their molds purchased from a
retiring jeweler who’d lost the instructions. You’d like to replace
that element of their system, in order to know what supplies you’ll
need to purchase from them should you decide to go ahead with the
project.

Perhaps that will do the trick.

I’ve got one of their Simplicity refining systems, that I got for
free (!) when my employers decided to get rid of it. A call to Shor,
implying that I’d need supplies (which are admitedly more proprietary
than the supplies for metal molds), got me all the instructions I
needed (and the supplies, of course, for which i had to pay…

Hey, I’m not saying you should LIE to them, but heck. Be creative.
(grin)

Peter


#5

Well far be it from me to defend another supplier, but I’m not so
sure that they are being jerks. I’ve seen metal mold making done but
not enough to write up instructions for you here or I would have done
it already.

It actually seemed a fairly easy thing to do – once you see it
done. The mold frames are special but other than that, it was a
question of melting a low-temp alloy and pouring it into portions of
the frame, not the whole frame at once. When I saw it done, the guy
was literally melting the alloy in a large ladle over a plumber’s
torch. Then carefully pouring it into the various holes in the mold
frame. I think he was plugging up the other holes in the frame with
some type of clay or something.

Thus, the “product” that Shor is selling is really the know-how,
i.e. the instructions. If they give you the instructions for free,
they’re giving away the product. One can make one’s own judgments on
whether selling know-how is ethical or not, but we pay for driving
lessons, golf lessons, college, etc. – so it’s not unheard of.
/shrug

Elaine

Elaine Corwin
www.gesswein.com
Gesswein Co. Inc.
Tel: 1-800-544-2043


#6

Peter,

Thanks for your valuable insight.

Simple answer multi part. I did call and request the instructions
and was told they were proprietary, unless you buy the system.

Well, I'm surprised..... 
Call, and say..... You'd like to replace that element..... 

Thanks for the suggestion. I took your suggestion and tried one more
time. I indicated that I was interested in buying a "used system"
and would be interested in buying supplies to support the system. I
also indicated that I knew generally how the process worked but that
I would like to have a complete system. The gentleman (truly)
indicated that he could help me over the rough spots but that he
COULD NOT (his bosses direction) provide the instructions.

He indicated that there were only two systems that had this
restriction. The metal mold system and the refining system you
mentioned.

I guess you got lucky.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone out there will be able to supply
the needed instructions (the gentleman indicated to me that there
were no restrictions if I could obtain them from a source other than
Shor.

Regards RLW


#7
and was told they were proprietary, unless you buy the system. 

Ah-HAH! So can we now finally agree that there is a top-down
CONSPIRACY to guard the trade secrets of metal molds ??

(Hello Castaldo??) I’m thinking this is akin to some relic of the
Knights Templar/Free Masons-- I can just picture it: The Associated
Secret Society of Metal Mold Manufacturers (codenamed ASSMMAN) are
meeting at this very moment, in a forgotten back-room of the ancient
70’s I-Shor showroom back-office, walls covered in dark paneling
reeking of ancient cigar-smoke, filled with leisure-suited cronies
with comb-overs and sideburns, over which Nate Shor himself holds
sway, barking: “anybody tell anyone about this and I’ll throw 'em
out the window!”

I honestly believe the buy-out of the old I-Shor by Romanoff Rubber
was just a cover-up, and somewhere out there, these old-timers are
planning a huge conspiracy to make diamond-faceted wedding bands
popular again…

J.


#8

With all due respect, this is not proprietary knowledge, any
proposed patents long expired. My uncle can teach me to drive as
well as a driving school.

The guarding of the metal mold myth is a CONSPIRACY, nothing less–
these people want to keep us in the dark ages of wobbly imprecise
rubber and ridiculous parting lines and absurdly thick walls because
they wish to guard some secretive trick to low melt metal-- of
course low-melt metal is a sloppy and antiquated way to produce any
sort of plastic-injection mold, as any bona-fide mfr. would agree–
it’s just the stodgy old cigar-smoking, leisure-suited mutants from
an ancient and tacky age that make the American jewelry
manufacturing industry so hopelessly behind the times and stodgy and
non-competitive.

Lest we all for a minute think domestic jewelry manufacturing
dissolved over low paying overseas jobs-- think again. It’s because
Providence and Attleboro live in the side-burned seventies (except
for a few companies, who know whom they are!!!) and keep waiting in
vain for costume jewelry to come back.

We lost because we kept progress from happening, so Asia and Italy
stomped us in jewelry, as they did in absolutely every other form of
esthetic design manufacturing (of course there are those who would
find computer chips and stinger missiles esthetic, hence the
ridiculous state of design in America-- any guess why Europeans
don’t buy American jewelry??)

Metal molds are a case in point.

J.


#9
He indicated that there were only two systems that had this
restriction. The metal mold system and the refining system you
mentioned.

Maybe just the metal mold system then, since you can download the
full instructions for the Simplicity system from the web. I bought
their instructional CD for it. Everything on it is already on their
web site. They don’t need to maintain the on how to use
the system as proprietary, since they do it just fine by not
revealing the secrets of how their electrolytic cell is constructed,
and by not giving out the chemical formulas for their supply
chemicals. Thus they insure that they’re the one’s supplying the
chemicals and supplies. With the metal mold system, none of the
supplies are proprietary, so only the details of how they use those
tools are their own. When you said you were interested in acquiring
a used system, you told them you were not buying one from them. Would
have been better to tell them you already had one purchased
originally from them. They might then have felt obligated to support
it. Don’t know. But keep looking. The basics of how it used to be
done are out there somewhere, and certainly, with that, and a bit of
intelligent trial and error, you no doubt could work it out on your
own. It’s really not that complex, from everything I’ve been told
and seen about such molds. Basically, you imbed your model in
Plasticine clay up to a parting line, then pour dental stone or
similar hard plaster-like material over it. A separating agent,
perhaps Vaseline, would let you remove the model and clay from the
cast hard material. If a ring, a steel core is used to fill the ring
hole, similar to the old sand casting methods. (this whole thing is
quite parallel in methodology to making a sand mold, cores and all).
The plaster, in half the mold frame, is filled the rest of the way
with your mold metal, and vulcanized. Not quite melted, but highly
plastic, the heat and pressure press the pewter down into the mold
conforming with the plaster. When cooled and disassembled, a
separating agent on the metal surface is used so the second half is
pressed down on the first, without the two surfaces bonding. Separate
steps similar to the above are used to individually make any needed
small inserts or cores for undercuts or details that cannot be part
of the main mold mass. The castaldo frame would make all of this much
easier, since it adjusts for the depth of the material being
vulcanized automatically, and would easily separate from the mold
parts, easier than the old cylinder type mold frames. Keep looking.
The info is out there somewhere. or bite the bullet and buy it from
SHOR. No different really from buying your own copy of any of the
decent books in print. Their authors don’t give them away for free
either, if they can help it…

Peter


#10

and was told they were proprietary, unless you buy the system.

Ah-HAH! So can we now finally agree that there is a top-down
CONSPIRACY to guard the trade secrets of metal molds ?? 

Oh Jeez. Lighten up. We’ve got enough consipracy freaks running
around these days, some claiming 911 was government planned, to those
who are sure that jet contrails are masked chemical spraying for some
evil secret purpose.

This isn’t some great conspiracy. It’s just SHOR having figured out
some improved method of doing metal molds using Castaldo’s adjustable
mold frame instead of the older style round frames. If they’ve
figured out some improvement on the method, what’s so unreasonable
that they use it to try and market the mold frames? Why in heck
should they give it away, given that non of the componants, from the
frame on down, are all that unique. It’s their choice to do this if
they wish. I know I’ve seen the method for metal molds published
here and there over the years. I just don’t recall exactly where, or
I’d have mentioned it here. Keep looking. The literature is out there.
Just because Google doesn’t instantly find it is no reason to stop
looking.

And, in another post you slam metal molds as being archaic. I beg to
disagree. They’re an intermediate type of mold between a rubber mold
and the industrial level machined or cad/cam mold These latter are
better for plastic injection, to be sure, in part because they last
longer and withstand higher temps. But they’re also not easy to
make, nor cheap to have made. Four and five figure prices are the
norm if you take a technical drawing to a tool and die shop and want
an industrial level injection mold machined. Metal molds, by
contrast, though more trouble to make than a rubber mold, can by made
by most jewelers with a standard vulcanizer and some experience doing
it. Cost to do it yourself is minimal, just time and a bit of plaster
and pewter or similar low melting metal, once you’ve got the other
tools. That makes the molds suited to lower volume production. For
many years, class ring manufacturers did this type of mold, since
most of their designs were pretty custom, low volume or even one of a
kind, customized to suit the client. The metal molds allow wax to be
injected at high pressures, but at a lower temp, in an almost slushy
pasty state, rather than fully molten. The result is no real
shrinkage, and high definition fully filled details. Anyone who’s
tried to get a good mold on a class ring with rubber will understand
that it can be quite tricky to get all the letters and details to
fully fill right up into all the corners, and still without mold
marks. metal molds are good at exactly that, for models that don’t
have complex undercuts that require mold flexibility to remove the
wax.

Now, I don’t know if those class ring manufacturers are still doing
their rings this way. I’d expect that now the waxes are done directly,
without a mold, via CAD/CAM methods. Makes sense to me, and is likely
cheaper for them. But it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those firms
still have all their old molds available, just in case, even if
that’s not how they’re making the models any more.

Are they archaic signs of our industries decline? Not at all. They’re
just another tool, available still even if current technology has
given us other tools that may sometimes be better. But it just
depends on what you’re making, and which of the available
technologies is best suited. We have, in our shop, CAD/CAM technology
available, and we mill some very nice precise models with it. But we
also hand make some things that could have been milled, simply
because the hand fabricated product will be better in some ways than
the cast CAD/CAM version. Having both available is great, giving us
more flexibility as a manufacturer. The same with molds. Along with
the choice of many different casting waxes, more or less
sophisticated wax injection technologies, and many types of mold
rubber, the option for me to learn to make metal molds also offers
some possible solutions for us, and with the detailed models the CAD
mill is now giving us, frankly it may be something I explore, since
some of our new designs are giving us the same problems as those
class rings offer. And if the easiest way to do that is to buy the
mold frame from SHOR (especially if their price is not totally out of
line with other sellers), then I’ll be happy to do so in trade for
getting their little instruction sheet. I do NOT think of this as
conspiracy. Just business. In their shoes, I might do the same. Or
maybe not. I’m pretty good at giving away info for free. Some others
sometimes like to sell it. That’s their option.

Peter


#11
Oh Jeez. Lighten up 

But really–

One must realize this is all in fun… Couldn’t resist jabbing–
jewelry industry folks need a bit of jabbing once in a while,
dontcha think?

After all we ride the same convention-center caravan every other
month it seems, might as well keep it lively~

Very grateful indeed for all the advances in casting technology, and
in that regard castings have improved.

But truly where all this is coming from is we all need to “lighten
up” on the precious metal use.

Casting via wax injection into flexible molds is brilliant but
limited, especially when it concerns unnecessary extra weight not
required by the piece’s expression nor structure, but results from
the nature of casting wax into rubber molds.

If technology exists to create light, strong forms, let’s embrace
that. We need to ease the burden on the cost, the wearer and the
planet. The tradition of working gold in micro-thin, hard sheets is
legondary (only wish I could do it!). Various production know-how
exists, yet it’s unavailable to designers locally or easily, hence
the vitality of our domestic design scene could reach a roadblock in
the limits of casting technology, and need to branch off into other,
more sophisticated production techniques…

Just a thought.

I think a perfect example of light, strong, fluid, beautiful,
designed-for-production yet each with it’s gesture (i.e. the ideal
piece), is the work of Michael Goode. Hooray for Michael Goode–

J.


#12

Hi Ya’ll from Texas

Let me state the question one more time. Can anyone provide me with
a set of steps or process steps that will tell me how to approach the
making of a homemade metal mold.

One must realize this is all in fun… Couldn’t… — In the words
of a famous character “Yup”, “Yup”, “Yup”. I know that as a HOBBY, it
is a great fun and since I poured my first casting in August of 2003,
I’ve come a long way.

After… same convention-center caravan… — In the words of a
the character RLW (me) “Nope”, “Nope”, “Nope”. Sometimes I get the
feeling that (although ya’ll have helped us greatly, and your
insights are outstanding), the dialog often centers around the issues
associated with the industry problems rather than the technical. I’m
not against the industry dialog, but as a hobbyist casting 150 to 500
grams Ag and AU per month I don’t face or understand the problems.
It’s not that I’m not interested but sometimes the dialog gets in the
way of the answer.

This thread and the other related one Metal Molds started recently
and the original thread which got NO RESPONSES back in February were
MY attempt to extend my knowledge and skill into an area that appears
to have VERY LITTLE available for public consumption.

I’m not against Shor, Castaldo, Zero D, or any other company. My
comments on Shor were simply about what I thought was a “Bad
Attitude”. If there product (really a Castaldo product that they
resell)is the greatest thing since sliced bread for making metal
molds, then I’ll buy it. My original and follow-up questions to them
centered around the process. If the hardware that supports the
process is great, then I’ll probably make the investment, BUT I’m
not going to buy a “pig in the poke”.

BTW, Michael at Castaldo, and numerous individuals at Zero D have
chatted with me on MANY occasions and freely share on every subject
that I have ever asked about.

Very grateful… for… advances in… technology,… — In the
words of a famous character “Yup”, “Yup”, “Yup”. I work with
virtually all of the RTV types, Ferris, Vulcanized Rubber products,
Soapstone, Cuttle Bone, etc. I am impressed with the high quality
that I have gotten out of some e-bay metal molds that I have
purchased. I want to learn how to do it in my garage (really wife’s
kitchen).

Casting via wax injection into flexible molds… — In the words of
a famous character “Yup”, “Yup”, “Yup”. Having been a reading student
for years prior to August of 2003, I can understand and admire the
challenges faced. My little home lab is robustly equipped with
pressurized injection system for wax, and I have done some low
pressure plastic with a kludged up injector. Again I don’t see the
problems of the industry in terms of weight, probably because my
experience isn’t great enough to recognize it. I do believe they are
real problems but not the ones I’m facing.

=WHINE OFF=

Let me state the question one more time. Can anyone provide me with
a set of steps or process steps that will tell me how to approach the
making of a homemade metal mold.

Regards
RLW


#13

Hi Ronald, there is some interesting stuff on making metal moulds
from something called (I think) liquid metal from hardware shops in
the book by Susan Kingsley on Hydraulic presses.They should be some
info on the Bonny Doon site, or check out Dar Sheldon ( posts here
on Orchid) for metal dies, hope this helps, if you want more info,
let me know and I’ll go look it all up, but it’s midnight now and I’m
stopping,

Christine

Ps Ronald, I think I got Dar’s name wrong - it’s Shelton - Dar
Shelton, (“The Sheltech Guy”) http://www.sheltech.net