Editors note: Steve Fritzinger is Nova Labs' composites area steward, and teaches a variety of classes including molding and casting (as part of the composites area), as well as knife sharpening and creating cosplay armor, among other things. You may message him on Slack at @Steve Fritzinger
A friend’s online pandemic gaming group and a chance comment on one of our Slack channels have sent me on a new maker’s journey. I’d been thinking about custom dice sets and watching YouTube videos on the subject for several months. When my friend said he wanted to run a contest with prizes to celebrate the group’s one year anniversary, it was time to get to work.
Most dice videos cover creating molds of existing dice and then casting the dice with the maker’s own colors and inclusions. I want to make mine from scratch. This will allow me to pick my own font for the numbers and mark one face with the group’s logo. Then I’ll cast the dice in the appropriate colors and add a nice keepsake box. That will be a prize worth competing for.
This project will test and stretch several of my skill sets, CAD design, mold optimization, gang casting and fine woodworking. I’ve already modeled the five Platonic solids in Fusion 360. There’s a hard way and an easy way to do this. I now have experience with both methods. Using the 12-sided die as my test, I’m experimenting with different depths for the numbering and ways to ink the dice.
I’m also experimenting with the mold. I might have to make 30 sets of these. For my time and sanity, it’s critical that each set requires minimal clean up after casting. I’ve settled on a type of two-part mold called a cap mold. This design will leave a thin ring of flashing on one face of each die. A little sanding and polishing should be all it takes to get a finished product.
I printed my first test die on Nova Labs’ FormLabs Form 3 SLA printer. The Form 3 produced an excellent finish but it was a slow and expensive process. The new Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K printers (which Nova Labs now owns three of) will greatly speed up my design process and keep my costs manageable.
I’ll be working on this project for the next month or so. If you see me at the casting/layup table with a bunch of tiny molds, you’ll know what I’m doing.
I’m teaching a two-part mold making class Saturday, April 3rd. If you’ve got a similar project, please join us.
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