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Mould Design Community, what if…???


This topic contains 121 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  Dan Shirley 1 year ago.

Dario Zanon dzspain

Mould Design Community, what if…???

10/05/2016 at 12:16

Hi everyone! I’m absolutely excited with the idea, it’s a great one and with a big set of tools to go on but I just find a “weak point” about all this stuff when we pretend to recycle and reuse the plastic on Dave’s machines… MOULDS!

There is nothing to do with an extruder machine without a mould… so I’m wondering how can it be fixed and it is not a simple matter.

The first “pain point” is about mould design. It is not only a matter of shape but also a question of architecture as the final product should be “nice and useful (durable)” so I want to invite everyone on a discussion about “design inteligence”. My point of view is that the “designers knowledge” should be implemented on the project and maybe to create a “Plastic’s Design Market” where any producer could buy or borrow a plastic mould design to made.

On the other hand, once there’s a mould to be made, we should talk about aluminium recycling for greensand casting or CNC milling; so there’s a need about aluminium casting techics, technical knowledge and technical skills to provide.. but also CNC machines building, stepper motors control and CNC software for mould designs making.

I think that it could be great if we find the way to merge design knowledge, mould design libraries and a mould makers list to give this project a “ready to go” state.

About mould casting, I would like to advice about how useful and efficient could be a “mould makers network”, as it is needed various requirements to produce quality moulds for long lasting use and production such as machinery, knowledge, space, and so on… maybe to arrange a regional clustering could be a must in order to maximize start-up speed and reduce production expenses to someone’s project.

Do you want to join the discussion?

Thank’s for your attention 🙂

Edit, Moved to PreciousPlastic forum

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11/06/2016 at 22:23

When using tinkercad I export .step or .stl from memory (posting from phone).

Maybe think of the most thermally conductive materials then think about their suitability for use in a mould.

Rather than thinking 1st or 3rd world, perhaps we should think that the simpler the system the more it will be adopted any where in the world.


12/06/2016 at 00:43


Looking forward to see the results of this, please keep us posted!

12/06/2016 at 07:19

Great thought @winbidtm! You’re absolutely right!
“the simpler the system the more it will be adopted any where in the world.”

12/06/2016 at 22:59

WOW this threat has exploded!! Niiice. 🙂

i see, unfortunately FreeCAD is not fully production ready yet BUT to me is seems the best option at this point. I’m not a CAD designer, but if i can get around with it then someone with deeper CAD knowledge should pretty much be able to use it. And sure AutoCAD will have more nifty features (that only hardcore designers know how to use) Not sure what the system requirements are for AutoCAD
But FreeCAD has very modest hardware needs, I used it on a Intel Atom Netbook (Acer Aspire One) from 10 years back.

Exporting in STEP seems to be the most compatible. I guess AutoCAD can open STEP?

FreeCAD runs on most Operating Systems Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint), Apple and Windows. And a bit of a learning curve can be expected.

@dzspain I fully agree with 1st world being the biggest pollution factor
But when viewing Daves video’s then I see that the 3rd world needs the most technology to clean up the mess that our 1st world dumped on them.

So if possible we should think along and share our ideas and technology as easy as possible. And yes all the mess that we can avoid to be dumped is also essential. So if we can combine all forces then we all become ‘masters of the plastic verse’ Actually i think we could learn a thing or two from 3rd world creativity and inventivity. To use lower tech solutions. So i hope dave has his camera ready when there are low tech solutions are in sight. . 🙂 Like the DIY welding he filmed. 😀

@richoz27 Thanks for that video!!

@paulaortega *Thumbs UP!*

@robksawyer Don’t forget to try FreeCAD and add it to the wiki (if you deem it to be good enough)

13/06/2016 at 09:00

Many thank’s @uaneme for your contributions to this topic. I’m agree with you in both “easy solutions” and “open CAD” points. You’re on the right thinking line.

Talking about the topic, what can we do to approach the project to the industrial designers? The Mould Design Community tools should be done before actuate over the designers or could it be better to make them just the main propeler of the Community?

@richoz27, @paulaortega, @robksawyer, @davehakkens, @winbidtm, @robksawyer, @birdynamnam, @timslab, @n-w-b, @redgurrillia, @paulenglish, what do you thinnk?

@robksawyer, I posted a video about home-made aluminium foundry at molding material topic where the guy shows how important are the aditives for a quality casting. He uses just fine salt to get the impurities from the melting pot and chlorine tablets to reduce pore, both placed directly into the melting aluminium. I just remembered about it now and I think that it is very important point as the aluminium recycling is a whole business and solution by itself. I know about a Nicaragua’s University that rise a low-tech project for aluminium quality casting to improve country’s competitiveness, save a big amount of money in aluminium import and give small producers a technology’s knowledge “update”… just to save that pore’s problem on their castings.

I checked all the materials and avaliable container dimensions and I have two posibilities… first is a 200l./52gal.what gives a nice foundry for large projects but as I haven’t enought sand, fireclay, etc… it will take a time to get it done.

On the other hand I have a little barrer about 30l./8gal. and enought materials to have it done… I’m just not sure about the space I shall let free for the melting pot and the chacoal… I’ll tell you more once I get solved this questions.

14/06/2016 at 02:30

@uaneme Added FreeCAD to the wiki. Thanks! Feel free to create an account and start editing.

Everyone should have the ability to add and edit items there. That’s the reason I started it. Let’s consolidate and organize the ideas from the forums there.

I’m currently trying to figure out more details related to motors (which work best) for the extrusion machine. And I could use your help. There’s now a table on the extrusion machine page in the wiki just for collecting these.

Ping [email protected] if you have any issues.

15/06/2016 at 01:54

Good job @robksawyer! Congratulations!

15/06/2016 at 03:46


“what can we do to approach the project to the industrial designers?”

Bucky Fuller would say ‘first get rid of industrial designers in the first place and teach them to become real engineers and solve real problems instead of hiding old issues behind a new look’
But that’s a bit radical…

To propell the community I think there needs to be a balance that pushes and pulls everyone to the next level in an organic manner?
I like the more industrial size of daves machines, since there is a LOT of plastic to shred and mold. On the other hand having smaller desktop size machines could lower the barrier to enter. And thus draw in more people?

A plastic recycling fabric that fits upon (and under) 1 table frame? Or individual machines that are easy to transport. Say a person has a shredder, one person has a injection, etc. The you could go to some hacker event with 20 people who all bring a tiny machine nd join forces.. (and recycle all the plastic of the hacker event) Zero-trash footprint??? That would be a first for such an event!! 😀 Thinking along those lines could also draw in even more people. But the more widespread it gets the safer the machines must be. The more fools will be using them, while having a beer…

BTW. I watch that cardboard-dough video and found it it very interesting (after batteling trough the weird google captions and weirder translations)
..wood-glue translated into ‘white cola’:-D (colle-blanco?)
anyhoe. could this dough actually be used ad mould for plastic?????
paper and cardboard trash is also everywhere. 2 flies in one hit?
And eventually use non food alternatives to make the dough.

I experimented a bit with soda to stop fungi and borax as a fire retardant.
both low cost and widely available.

15/06/2016 at 04:28

Is the url to the wiki already published at the precious plastic website?

Also it might be good to have a link from preciousplastic.com direct to this forum. people might not realise that this is here. Since there is no forum on there.

I just tried to sign up at media wiki but cant sign in yet.. will try again tomorrow

15/06/2016 at 22:27


The Precious Plastic Wiki is very much a single effort on my part to consolidate and organize the information in the forums. Note: I like forums for conversation and collecting spontaneous ideas, but I find them hard to navigate when it comes to finding specific information.

As for the link to the forum from preciousplastic.com, I agree. It was difficult for me to find the forum and I consistently have issues trying to re-find it. +1

Can you tell me what kind of error you received when you tried to sign up? I’ve been upgrading and adding some new extensions and templates lately. It may have been when an update occurred.

I just realized that I had editing and account creation turned off in the settings. Duh. This has been updated. You can now create and edit items on the wiki.

17/06/2016 at 00:40

I updated the CAD section, any thought or suggestions are welcome

Or just sign up and do your own edits….

18/06/2016 at 12:36

Hi you all! @richoz27, @paulaortega, @davehakkens, @winbidtm, @birdynamnam, @timslab, @n-w-b, @redgurrillia, @paulenglish… still there?

Great job, @robksawyer. I’ll sign-up myself as soon as I have something to add.

@uaneme, I didn’t notice that great idea of “masters of the plastic verse” It sound really nice as a concept.

Sorry for my delay answering but I’m involved in some training that catched all my free time lately.

About machine sizes, I think that it could be just great to have little domestic shredders as there is garbage disposers to make anyone able to collect the plastic waste. It coud be great to add a plastic identification sensor like this ones at ApNotes to clasify and package them.

So every one will be able to collect separately each kind of plastic to reuse in the local plastics workshop. For instance

18/06/2016 at 14:31

Hi people,

Im still alive and well. Been busy with school. I like the idea of thr wiki. Indeed finding info on a forum is challenging. When im homr again I will take a look at it and contribute where posible.


18/06/2016 at 17:36

@n-w-b, nice to read you! 🙂

18/06/2016 at 23:49

I second that about the wiki, finding things here is not the easiest. Is there a search for the forums? Say I want to find posts about “PID controller”.

19/06/2016 at 01:21

I can do any CAD work thats needed. I am not in a position to build anything right now (no workshop space) but that will change in a few months. Until then I cant experiment and see what issues need to be modified or worked on.

In light of the video I posted, I can already see some improvements to be made to the design but without having played with it myself I dont want to fix what might not need fixing though.

So if you need something done in CAD talk to me about it and I can work on it when there is no paid work for me to do.

From my perspective this machine will need to produce decent products or its not really worth doing, no point recycling plastic into blobs no matter what country you live in, so I think it needs to be able to produce good products in an economical way.

19/06/2016 at 02:59

Hi Everyone!

I’m a contemporary jeweller from Australia!
I am starting to build these machines because I want to switch all of the plastic in my work to recycled plastic. I currently pour resin into custom made silicone moulds.

I have attached a photo of the current work I make using non-recycled plastic and the moulds I make. I was wondering if anyone could advise me on the best machine to build to mould this plastic and any advice on how to make moulds? The pieces are flat about 3 mm in height, so I have simply moulded my shapes in silicone.

Any advice you have on how to make moulds for these machines would be great help. I was thinking – would it be as simple as placing the shredded plastic into the silicone mould and putting in the oven? It is difficult because I have no access to the machines to experiment – so I would love some insight and ideas / experiences before I start to build the machines.

Thank-you! I’m very excited to work with recycled plastic.

19/06/2016 at 11:28


I should think you can do this with a version of the compression machine, perhaps in a regular oven using weights instead of having to drill holes in the oven shell for a jack/press.

You might have to do some cleanup to remove excess around the edges of the mould. And you might need to use something stiffer than silicone, as your designs are flat, a CNC’d aluminium mould would be quite easy to make if you can find somebody local to do it.

19/06/2016 at 12:57


Thank-you Andy for getting me on the right track! These ideas are a great start and I will do some tests once I make the shredder. I will be able to find someone to make CNC’d aluminium moulds – I am not sure how expensive mould making is in Australia. I will post photos of the new designs in the coming months!

19/06/2016 at 14:39


Do you have a makerspace/hackspace near you? https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/Australia

They may have a CNC machine that can make the mould. Do you make the patterns for your silicone moulds by hand? If you can digitise it, even on a scanner, it will be simple to make a metal mould from a computer file.

For the amount of plastic you need to fill these, could you get by with just scissors instead of a shredder? I suppose it depends how many you plan on making!

19/06/2016 at 19:37


Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to test the mould this week so cannot report back yet. Hopefully next week! However, what’s bothering me is that this mould, even if it works, would be a 1-off mould. Perfect for my one-off sculptures but not so good for making several parts/day.


20/06/2016 at 09:25

@andyn Thank-you, I just looked at the hackerspace website and found a great place to join that I didn’t know existed – They have many things I need to make the shredder but unfortunately no CNC machine.

Yes, I make the patterns for the mould using Adobe Illustrator. So hopefully these files can be easily converted. It really depends on the cost – I haven’t quoted many places yet for the plasma/water/laser cutting of the shredder parts or for the moulds.

I was wondering why you think the silicone moulds won’t work? Sorry I don’t know much about casting plastic. I use the pinkysil 2 part silicone and it mentions that it is not food safe, but there are a lot of silicone baking / cooking trays so maybe the silicone mould might work. I might see if it would help to set the silicone moulds in a plaster to add some strength around them?

I will experiment and see if I can get this to work, if not I will try making a sheet of plastic on a metal baking tray and then see if I can laser cut the shapes from the sheet.

You are right, I will definitely just shear the plastic with scissors myself, instead of building the shredder while I’m working on proof of concept experiments.

I am a little concerned about the fumes when melting the plastic, despite having a well-ventilated studio. Another reason I am switching from resin is because of allergic reactions I am having! So I am hoping this recycle plastic-smithing won’t be another thing that could affect my health!

20/06/2016 at 13:08


Silicone will be able to take the heat, but being rubber it will probably deform under the pressure needed to compress the molten plastic into it. You could probably minimise this as you say by backing the mould with something more rigid. A thin silicone mould in a metal ‘tray’ (maybe made to fit) might work better than plaster or wood, as metal will conduct the heat to the mould better.

If you use HDPE/LDPE (2/4) these produce no fumes or nasty smells at the temperature required to melt them (200°C or so). They will make smoke/ fumes if you actually burn them but even that is safer than some other plastics. Avoid PVC, ABS or anything you’re not sure of, these can release toxic fumes. Polypropylene (PP/5) is also fairly safe. Ventilation always a good idea though!

Making a compressed flat sheet and cutting designs out of it might work well and you could get some interesting patterns if you mix the colours you melt. HDPE does not cut well on a laser though, it tends to melt/burn the edges, if it’s very thin and the laser has air-assist it might work acceptably. (Definitely don’t cut PVC on a laser, nasty fumes!)

If you can export your Adobe Illustrator files as .eps or .dxf these can easily be converted to g-code for a CNC machine. This would need to be done by the machine owner though as you also need to know some details about the machine and the cutting tools.

20/06/2016 at 13:15


Hi Paula, could you make this as a two part mother mould to go around the silicone and be clamped together?

I imagine the silicone would be reusable even if you have to cut it a bit to peel it off the moulded part?

21/06/2016 at 03:26

@winbidtm Regarding the search/and forum I think @Hansie is planning to give us a better forum.
The Wiki: Maybe @Hansie can place the a link to that wiki on the preciousplastic site? (I hope that request is being noticed by someone who can actually edit the website)

@bianca / @paulaortega I think it ultimately will be a 3 or more part mould. As mentioned somewhere before

1 ‘standard part’ to hold the nozzle, a left and a right side part (or top and bottom)

Making re-usable moulds is really essential. recycling is key, we should make less mess then the mess that is being cleaned up. 🙂 Big industry should already be that wise, but apparently they are just ignoring the mess they made.

From the looks of it your moulds can be stackable, and then there should be some kind of container to around them (wood?) to keep them in place and to add the nozzle

@richoz27 What CAD application do you work with? Any idea’s if it can output a tinker friendly file type for people that can’t afford expensive CADware.

And how do we share/exchange our files? (is there a simple solution that everyone can use? And that also respect us as human beings. (unlike thingyverse!! They are known to steal ideas, and they even made their EULA in such way that you have to agree with them that they may rob you)
I hear Youmagine is a bit more humane? Any other options?

21/06/2016 at 03:53

@uaneme I use Solidworks, not sure what you mean by tinker friendly? But it can output many types of CAD formats.

I saw a really good idea the other day, interlocking bricks for building houses etc… from recycled plastic (like a big Lego block). I have already started the design but I would like to share it and get other peoples feedback. I think if we can come up with a simple design that can turn waste plastic into building blocks this would be really good for developing countries.

Download it here, this is soldworks file though. This is just a rough start, in need of more development.


It should be:
– Simple interlocking design
– The mould needs to be easily constructed and reusable over many times
– Injection mould friendly (consistent wall thickness etc)

Turning rubbish into houses would be a great application for this.

Give me your feedback and ideas please 🙂

21/06/2016 at 05:57

tinker friendly as in, friendly to people who like to tinker.
Low/No budget.
Minimal hardware.

Since there are people from all over the planet with different budgets, and with a wide range of hardware. I guess the range is somewhere between Windows XP and Apple (and a few people like me with Linux)

I’m trying to figure out a solution that works for everyone (literally everyone) if possible. I know this will be hard, but i’m trying to push this to the forefront since I’m sure we can do this. (If we want)

Not saying you should give up Solidworks, but more something in like. Please think along when you export a file and export it in a format that more programs are able to load then just your program. I don’t know what Solidworks can do there (this is where you probably can make some suggestion?)

All i know at this point is that .STEP exported with FreeCAD works fine with AutoCAD and another pro-CAD program that I don’t remember from the top of my head (Not Solidworks)

Maybe we can put the findings in the Wiki? (@robksawyer ?)
How to display compatibility between software?

@siteadmin It also might be cool if every user profile had the option to add information on what software packages people are using. What machines they have etc.

21/06/2016 at 06:13


Solidworks can export/import STEP files, have you used FreeCAD? I will look at it soon, I have updated the Grabcad link above to include a step file.

21/06/2016 at 06:58

@robksawyer https://preciousplasticwiki.herokuapp.com/index.php?title=Mold_Design
Please check.

@richoz27 I’m not a CAD designer, but I have used FreeCAD a couple of times.
It has a bit of a learning curve, but to me it feels very intuitive. I manage to do the basics and a bit more. Alltough often I tend to do simple things in a complicated way simply because I don’t have any background at this.

I’m just amazed how much is packed in that application, and how lightweight it is on the CPU even on a 7 year old netbook it works without any issues. (basic use)
And it runs on Apple, Windows and Linux all just the same.

I tried to download the STEP file but GrabCAD forces me to sign up..

I do like the interlocking brick i wonder if t could be used as mould case outer wall? (with a clay or silicone mould inside) This way we can fabricate parts to use in part fabrication. When broken we can recycle, improve and break it again. without making more mess. 😀

And yes, making houses would be cool. Even dog houses, chicken barn. (for Frieda’s family?

Allthough it would me more economical to make some kind of coupling system, and then use more classic materials (wood panels?) A 100% plastic wall is A LOT of plastic. But yeah it would at least clean up a chunk of planet.

What about lego style brick roomdeviders?

The nop things at the bottom appear to be a bit odd.

I slapped together a rough block in FreeCAD and uploaded the Freecad file and the object exported as STEP file.

What do you think? Is STEP usable? or could there be better options?

21/06/2016 at 08:20

@uaneme I’m guessing you added those details? 🙂 If so, thanks! I added the Precious Plastics machines to Thingiverse before I was aware of their terms. I need to look into this more.

Related to the lego bricks, I’ve made small silicone molds using this technique. It works great. Just build four walls of bricks and use Plastilina (non sulphur) clay to fill cracks on the inside.

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