Custom molds are necessary for the person or business
that wishes to bring a new and unique article or
product to market.
The not inconsiderable cost involved, due to labour
costs, can be amortised over a period when used
for business or promotional purposes, while the
amateur or hobbyist can purchase the materials and
be given the knowledge required, to make their own
Custom moulds are of two general types:
" Injection molds
" Molds suitable for small production runs.
Injection molds are designed to be run on automatic
machines for large production runs and can cost
from thousands to hundreds of thousands to produce.
production run molds are designed to be used either
in the vacuum forming process or in the form of
a rubber mold for casting with plaster, concrete
or resins etc. The cost for the production of the
necessary masters, molds etc usually start at $300.00
upwards depending on size, shape, undercuts etc.
Vacuum forming is usually done using masters made
of either metal, cold casting resins, resins or
materials such as plasters or gypsum cement.
As you can see there is a big difference between
the start up costs for injection and small run production
masters. Even so many people have little concept
of what is entailed in the production of masters
for either process, believing that if they can buy
a mold for say a few dollars, then they should be
able to have their own mold made for not much more.
While we are constantly working on methods to reduce
the cost of custom moulds by offering such services
as personalizing a range of standard designs, where
much of the production work has been done previously
we are faced with the time and design constraints
of the process.
How are custom molds made?
" The process starts with either a sketch or
design of the finished prototype or a sculptor prepared
clay, wax or plaster original.
" (a) The sketch or design is scanned into
a computer for converting into a form that can be
machined up in a CNC routing machine or downloaded
to a 3D printer.(b) The sculpt of the original on
the other hand is either laser or probe scanned
directly into a computer for production of the necessary
computer code that machines understand.
" The files that the computers produce are
then fed to small Roland type CNC machines or larger
flat bed machines for production of larger originals.
" The originals that are produced are then
finished off by hand to the required standard and
if to be used in the vacuum forming process they
are numbered and mounted on master boards for the
production of plastic moulds which of course feature
a flat or plaque like back. For all other processes,
whether 2D or 3D, master moulds are made of the
" These master moulds are then duplicated for
the production of the work moulds for day to day
If this sounds a long and demanding process to arrive
at the end result a plastic or a rubber work mold,
you are correct. You would be foolish to consider
having a custom mold made, unless you were contemplating
using the molds for a commercial activity to produce
a profit or were prepared to pay the not inconsiderable
expense involved for some personal reason.
Custom molds, for many an entrepreneur are the start
to a highly profitable and successful business,
in that for hundreds of dollars, they are able to
produce and test market a product that a larger
company would need to outlay thousands for the necessary
Large companies have to be very careful in what
they release for sale in that it always entails
large amounts of money which must be justified to
the boardroom. The entrepreneur using custom short
run rubber molds can produce prototypes and go on
to test market for a fraction of the cost of mass
production companies. Many have done so and seized
money making opportunities.
Stan Alderson © 2012 Aldax Enterprises Pty