Hi everyone!  I've been working on a new short film and experimenting with new ways to produce my puppets.  I decided that I was going to print a mold for my wire arms and then cast the 3d printed mold with MUD gel-foam.  It totally worked!

This was a 2hr42min print at 200 micron quality on a Solidoodle SD4

This was cast with MUD gel-foam.  It took 30min to cure, no baking, just waiting.  The wire armature I used for this test was made before the mold, so it didn't fit perfectly.  I quickly made another wire arm based on the mold and cast another that came out even better.

Tomorrow I will throw some PAX paint on it and see how it holds up animating.  It's a very flexible material, but feels almost soft like a gummy bear.  Maybe first wrapping my wire with a thin layer of sport wrap will help?

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I like to contact glue a layer of thin foam onto my armatures first, to give the silicone a surface to grip.  It doesn't stick well to metal so it needs a rough surface it can soak into a little.  I don't know what this Mud gel-foam is, but it should be a good idea.

Yes, what is MUD and where did you get it?   

Thanks Nick!  I wouldn't have thought to actually glue the foam wrap onto the armature.  I usually wrap it and just glue the end down.

MUD gel-foam is used fx makeup as an alternative to foam latex.  I came across it randomly while searching for cold foam.  I needed something that didn't need to bake, since I was printing plastic molds.  This stuff doesn't seem to expand very much either.  It's almost like pouring jelly into the mold.  The best part is I just microwaved a small piece for 30 seconds, then poured it onto both halves, layed the wire in, and slammed them together quickly.  Clamped it down for 30min. DONE!

There really isn't much info on it, sometimes it's called cubex.  Here is a link to purchasing it FX Warehouse

I attached a little video of what the second casting looks like.  It holds it's shape really well and doesn't seem to tear or wrinkle. 

Attachments:

I painted it this morning and just did a quick anim test to see how it holds up.  I think it's working quite well.  I need to smooth out my mold a bit more, but otherwise I like it.  It's 100 times better looking arms than my previous film.

I had a look for MUD gel-foam, and it is a foamed gelatine compound. So it will not have anything like the durability of silicone, and can dissolve in water, especially hot water! It might be useful if you need something for a short time, but it will break down. Commonly gelatine splits if left in a stretched state for a long time. The foaming may have got past this, but I suspect it will still be an issue.

I did some experimenting a long time ago with plastic-coated gelatin, and this helped. I lined my mould with liquid plastic, used for making bald caps (this was for TV special effects), then I filled the mould. This might also work with liquid latex, so you end up with a thin skin of latex over the gel-foam. It would then be much more durable, as it is less likely to absorb moisture. Might be worth a try.

Having said all that, the video looks good!

Thanks for the input Simon!  I will give the liquid latex coating a try.  It is very jellylike, so maybe a few coats of liquid latex first would give it a nice container.

I had thought about giving it a single dip into some liquid latex after it's out of the mold.  I'll try in mold first.

Of course the problem with putting a layer of liquid latex into the mould will be seam lines. Dipping the finished article into latex would eliminate this, but the water in the latex might cause other issues. You could also try a thin layer of latex in the mould (essentially to protect the gel) then dip it after removal from the mould and clean-up of seams. 

I'll be very interested to hear how you get on.

I have the first mold i cast with a bad wire armature that i will try dipping in liquid latex.  I'll will post my results.

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