Are there cheaper alternatives to Smooth On products?

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XOIIO

New Member
Hey all, so a while back I posted progress on making a 3d model of the shock baton from ghost in the shell, however I did get a little stuck on it, and I also realized that for what I want to do, it would be a lot of work to clean up the print lines, and it also would probably feel quite different in the hand.

I figure making a silicone mold and casting it in 61d (a fairly close match, I got some samples and a durometer) would provide much better results, however I just got a quote in for various amounts of mold star and smooth cast, and holy hell, I didn't realize it was so expensive.

I have to probably rig up a rough mold to see how much I need, and I am in Canada which doesn't help, but for the 16lb kit of mold star it;s $260, and for smooth cast, it's $170. Add in sample kids for dying the resin and the silicone and this would end up costing pretty much as much as I paid for the prop itself.

Now, sure maybe I could cast several of them and sell them to offset the cost a bit, but based on how little interest there was in the post I made before, and the fact that it's not really a super iconic thing from the movie (I just couldn't afford anything really recognizable, and I was going to kick myself if I didn't get at least something), I doubt there'd be much interest in that.

So yeah, I'm wondering if there are other brands out there, or if smooth on is the most well known because other brands just aren't as good? Not sure about the availability of other brands of stuff up here, but if I got some names of them I could at least start looking into it.
 

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Zinger

Active Member
Not that I've found. There are other suppliers, Brick in the Yard is one. But they aren't significantly cheaper.

One thing I've found that helps to economize is buy what you can from Amazon with free Prime shipping. Shipping on those things is a killer.

The other is to make a glove mold instead of a two part mold. That saves a ton of rubber. Then you can rotocast a hollow copy of the prop. That saves resin and makes it lighter. Here's a build diary from my glowing baseball bat prop.
 
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ChickenHaunt

Sr Member
Smooth On is frequently recommended because they have a wide variety of pretty reliable products with good documentation and information. They are definitely not the only game in town, and we're lucky in LA to have access to a wide variety, including Smooth On, BJB, Silpak, and many store brands at the various special effects suppliers. I'll bet you have suppliers or manufacturers in Canada. Look into what the special effects shops are using.

Moldmaking is definitely expensive, though. Usually there's not a huge price difference between one brand and another.
 
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Empiricus

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Smooth-on is mostly a reseller that makes smaller lots available - that is expensive. Their source only sells large quantities you may see standing around in videos featuring Weta workshops for example.
 

Funky

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I'm lucky enough to have a Smooth On physical location in my back yard. They've always done right by me. They took back a couple of gallons on resin (combo pack) and replaced it with new resin at no cost! Yeah, they may not be the cheapest, but it's worth it, to me, to spend the extra money with them. Hell, I once took in a jacked up silicone mold and they remade me a great mold at no cost to me! Their service to the end buyer keeps me coming back. Sure, there may be cheaper options, but the money I saved because of their superior customer service saved me money and heartburn in the end.

I am not an authorized spokesman for Smooth On.
 

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TheTrekNerd

New Member
I agree with the glove mold / brush on mold option. Waaay cheaper. In reality, all you need is a thin layer of silicone to capture the detail, and a shell to hold it in place.
 

JPH

Sr Member
Why not just buy a smaller size? If you roto-cast, a starter of 325 and rebound 25 should be enough for baton or three. Plaster of Paris for the hard shell or Freeform air. When using the Rebound, after the first layer, put a bunch of foam chunks in there. It makes it hold the 3D shape and uses less silicone.
You can try alumitite resin for instance, but that stuff bows. Not a typo, it bows.
 

XOIIO

New Member
Thanks for the input guys, maybe I don't need as much as I thought to cast then, I'm just limited in the size that the distributor here has.

Annoyingly email notifications didn't work for this post though hence the late reply which is annoying.

I'll definitely have to look into glove molding/rotocasting, as some way to do it without a bunch of silicone would absolutely cut costs.

Definitely does sound like you have some good guys near you funky. Moving to the states sounds tempting whenever I look into this sort of stuff lol.
 

Polygonix

New Member
How does Alumilite compare for equivalent products quality wise? With the Hobby Lobby 40% off code its definitely a cheaper route.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
There are cheaper resins out there, but be careful - sometimes they use "extenders" or fillers to increase the volume while decreasing the cost because there is less resin in the mix. Some fillers are useful, but others weaken the resin or cause other problems. I had some cheap resin that continuously leached oil out of the finished castings, making them impossible to paint. I had to throw out the whole batch. That didn't save me any money!

After several unfortunate events like this trying different resins, I think it's worth it to pay a little more for the reliable resins, rather than risk having to throw out my castings.
 

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crob

New Member
Hey all, so a while back I posted progress on making a 3d model of the shock baton from ghost in the shell, however I did get a little stuck on it, and I also realized that for what I want to do, it would be a lot of work to clean up the print lines, and it also would probably feel quite different in the hand.

I figure making a silicone mold and casting it in 61d (a fairly close match, I got some samples and a durometer) would provide much better results, however I just got a quote in for various amounts of mold star and smooth cast, and holy hell, I didn't realize it was so expensive.

I have to probably rig up a rough mold to see how much I need, and I am in Canada which doesn't help, but for the 16lb kit of mold star it;s $260, and for smooth cast, it's $170. Add in sample kids for dying the resin and the silicone and this would end up costing pretty much as much as I paid for the prop itself.

Now, sure maybe I could cast several of them and sell them to offset the cost a bit, but based on how little interest there was in the post I made before, and the fact that it's not really a super iconic thing from the movie (I just couldn't afford anything really recognizable, and I was going to kick myself if I didn't get at least something), I doubt there'd be much interest in that.

So yeah, I'm wondering if there are other brands out there, or if smooth on is the most well known because other brands just aren't as good? Not sure about the availability of other brands of stuff up here, but if I got some names of them I could at least start looking into it.
Sounds crazy but all I use is Plasticine to smooth out the grooves from the print then I paint; once there are a few layers of paint the mold release is added and I add the rubber.
To apply the paint just use a sponge and to apply the mold release I just use a spray bottle.
 

JPH

Sr Member
Alumitite is fine for small stuff, it will bow over time, like super sslllloooowwww dripping water if used on something of any size, like a helmet or a bat without support.
 
I agree with JPH...I have tried all of their products and they just dont hold up as well compared to Smooth-on or BJB with the helmets that I make!
 

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MangyDog

Sr Member
Weird dejavu, I swear this was my thread :p...

Though was looking for mould making and casting supplies in the UK. And cheaper than smooth on....
 

Polygonix

New Member
I presume that shrinkage is not uniform so if you cast a 1" by 1" cube it might only be like .98" x .98" but if something was larger in one dimension it wouldn't shrink evenly right?
 

XOIIO

New Member
There are cheaper resins out there, but be careful - sometimes they use "extenders" or fillers to increase the volume while decreasing the cost because there is less resin in the mix. Some fillers are useful, but others weaken the resin or cause other problems. I had some cheap resin that continuously leached oil out of the finished castings, making them impossible to paint. I had to throw out the whole batch. That didn't save me any money!

After several unfortunate events like this trying different resins, I think it's worth it to pay a little more for the reliable resins, rather than risk having to throw out my castings.
I don't need to paint this, or at least I shouldn't need to, as it's basically just flat black, so dying the rubber or whatever it is I need to cast will probably have the desired effect, as long as it didn't come out glossy somehow.

Recently discovered using bondo fiberglass resin...works amazing!
Interesting, if that can be colored that might work well as a cheap resin, depending how much the stuff is here, but it probably wouldn't have the same feel in the hand as the original prop. Unfortunately I get obsessed with details and that's the sort of thing I'd want to replicate as much as I could.

I've got to look into rotocasting, Income tax is coming in and I'm finally catching up financially and I'd love to finally get this done, the couple massive step up modules I ordered came in and man, it will make for a pretty damn good arcing and sparking effect and sound. I guess I didn't mention it in my original post but the plan is basically to make it into a "real" shock baton.

Well, I guess the quotes aren't really necessary it would most certainly work as one, not to the extend a tazer does, but I'm sure it would hurt. No plan on using it, I'd just like to have a functioning prop.
 

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