How to get a resin cast to look like real metal?

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CJP

Well-Known Member
Please share your technique and pictures for finishing resin casts to look like aluminum. I need to replicate some buttons similar to the ones pictured.

I'm not having any luck with resin and aluminum powder. Maybe there is a better powder and technique than I'm using? (I've tried Smooth-On 322 1A:1B:1Powder and was not able to get the casts to shine like aluminum.)

Silver button.jpg
 

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robstyle

Master Member
What's the "mesh" of the powders you're using? I assume it's between 325 and 450. You'll want to find much much finer mesh. I use stuff in the thousands and tens of thousands. You would be able to buff it out inside the mould onto the silicone itself. You'll also find many times with metallic colors a black base material is the better end result.
 

CJP

Well-Known Member
What's the "mesh" of the powders you're using? I assume it's between 325 and 450. You'll want to find much much finer mesh. I use stuff in the thousands and tens of thousands. You would be able to buff it out inside the mould onto the silicone itself. You'll also find many times with metallic colors a black base material is the better end result.
Thanks... I'm using the Smooth-On aluminum which they state is 200 mesh. Their directions state to use 1:1:1 a/b/powder, mix, pour, and buff when cured. I will try rubbing the powder into the mold and finding a finer powder. Do you have any pictures of any of your aluminum results? Are you also filling the resin with the powder? What ratios?
 

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robstyle

Master Member
200 mesh will likely just fall to the lowest point. It's heavy and dense. I doubt you would be able to brush it up in a mould. Retailers generally don't get involved with selling metal powders finer that 450 mesh due to safety concerns. It also allows them to sell quantities more than what you would really need in a much finer mesh. Years ago I tried all sorts of "cold casting" with minimal acceptable results and noticed the waste of metal powder. You'll also see people claiming metal powder in resin adds strength and durability. The issue is cheap hobby resin will always be cheap hobby resin. It's brittle by nature. Better material will achieve better results. But it comes at a $$$ investment. Same with metal powders. Invest in the material once. It goes a long way.

I don't have any examples handy. Next time I turn the computer on I'll find something. Until then here are a couple. No cold casting, all parts strait from the mould as is. The bright silver parts are aluminum powders. The darker coins are a mix of oxides, graphite and nickle along with some brass.
 

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CJP

Well-Known Member
200 mesh will likely just fall to the lowest point. It's heavy and dense. I doubt you would be able to brush it up in a mould. Retailers generally don't get involved with selling metal powders finer that 450 mesh due to safety concerns. It also allows them to sell quantities more than what you would really need in a much finer mesh. Years ago I tried all sorts of "cold casting" with minimal acceptable results and noticed the waste of metal powder. You'll also see people claiming metal powder in resin adds strength and durability. The issue is cheap hobby resin will always be cheap hobby resin. It's brittle by nature. Better material will achieve better results. But it comes at a $$$ investment. Same with metal powders. Invest in the material once. It goes a long way.

I don't have any examples handy. Next time I turn the computer on I'll find something. Until then here are a couple. No cold casting, all parts strait from the mould as is. The bright silver parts are aluminum powders. The darker coins are a mix of oxides, graphite and nickle along with some brass.
Thanks, that's the look I'm going for! If retailers don't have the powders, can you post of PM me a source? And when you say that they're not cold cast, do you mean that they are achieved by brushing fine powder into the mold and then pouring unfilled resin on top?
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
Is there a way to visually tell if the powder is fine enough to use for casting? When we sold my grandpa's house last year I found a bottle of aluminum powder and I saved it for this reason. No idea if it's usable for casting though. It's pretty fine powder though.
 

robstyle

Master Member
Super fine or high mesh will flow like water. It just slides off itself unlike talc or Coarse materials. The only person I know that can get certain metal powders does so with a Pyro license. I just checked ebay and didn't see anything but I didn't search more than one minute. Graphite powder is a good start. It's used as an industrial lubricant. One jar of it will likely last a lifetime.

I don't mix anything with the casting plastic I use. It all comes down to lots of trial and error and technique to do parts cast in color. No paint. Right from the mould. The mettalics are easy. Wood grain can be challenging.
 

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Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
Thanks, I'll check how it looks tomorrow. He worked for a Monsanto lab as a chemist so he had access to all kinds of interesting things so it might have come from there.
 

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robstyle

Master Member
Thanks, I'll check how it looks tomorrow. He worked for a Monsanto lab as a chemist so he had access to all kinds of interesting things so it might have come from there.
If you have a small open faced mould brush some of it into the silicone, then pour a part. See what happens. If you don't have any casting material on hand a little trick, melt Crayola crayons in a soup can on the stove and dump it into the mould. Let it completely cool, can even place it into the fridge. Then see what that powder looks like.
 

JPH

Sr Member
Here is a cast using the amazon gold mica powder and some ancient smoothcast 325.

Not scrubbed, straight outta the mold. 1:1:1 mix

EDIT: the mold was poured in sections because otherwise it won't fill the head/beak area and wingtips
 

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PB Props

Active Member
Last year I ran a few masks with brass powder and while I was at it, I documented the process in this 12 minute video. It may be of some use to you to see how someone else did this.

 

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